Hilton Franchises Get behind Tsunami Relief Effort

Baltimore, MD (February 17, 2005) — When the founders of MEI Hotels Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio, learned about a tsunami relief effort involving items common to every hotel room, they knew they had found a cause they could support.

MEI Hotels President Bert Moyar and Chief Operating Officer David Moyar got their general managers on a conference call in mid-January and organized a companywide effort to assemble personal hygiene kits for the tsunami survivors.

“Being in the hotel business, it was a perfect fit for us,” said Tim P. Gross, general manager of the MEI-owned Hilton Garden Inn-Boca Raton. “We have access to good quality housekeeping items and good discount pricing.”

Other participating MEI properties included the Hilton Garden Inns of Miramar, Fla., and Fairfax, Va., and the Homewood Suites of Troy, Mich. Altogether, the hotels assembled more than 2,000 health kits, valued at about $25,000.

The kits contain: one hand towel, one washcloth, one comb, one metal nail file or nail clipper, one bar of soap (bath size), one toothbrush, one tube of toothpaste (4-7 ounces), and six Band-Aids. Some of the items were donated, but the cost of the remaining items, about $10,000, was covered by MEI Hotels, David Moyar said.

Gross said employees from the front desk, maintenance, housekeeping and other departments eagerly participated in the project, putting the kits together assembly-line style after hours. “They were overwhelmingly supportive,” he said. “Everyone just jumped in and did a great job.”

The health kits were assembled for the “Gift of the Heart” program of Church World Service and were shipped to its warehouse in Maryland. Bert Moyar learned about the project from the Baltimore-based International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians. Moyar serves as chairman of IOCC’s board of directors.

“We are pleased to participate in an activity that will bring basic necessities to people who have lost virtually everything,” Moyar said, “and we encourage others to join in this life-sustaining effort.”

Already, IOCC has shipped 8,000 “Gift of the Heart” health, school and baby kits to Indonesia, with more on the way. Orthodox Christian parishes and individuals have committed to assembling 35,000 of the health kits for tsunami victims in response to an appeal by IOCC.

In addition to the health kits, IOCC is responding to the tsunami disaster by airlifting humanitarian supplies to the island of Sumatra, distributing multi-vitamins to victims in Sri Lanka, and delivering nearly 300 boxes of medical supplies to Indonesia.