05-13-2020


Rarely is toilet paper ever something you give much thought to—until you’re out of it, that is.

We are, as a country, facing an unprecedented crisis. The pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus has forced much of the world into an at least semi-quarantined state, and one of the most unlikely outcomes of that has been a nationwide shortage of toilet paper on the shelves at retail and grocery stores.

But one company has teamed up with United Way Worldwide to make sure there’s plenty to go around, and that there’s no shortness of kindness in this difficult time.

“Since all of this started, toilet paper has become top of mind for a lot of consumers, and as a national toilet paper brand, and one of the leading makers of toilet paper, we knew we were in a unique position to make a difference,” says Ken Champa, senior brand manager for Cottonelle, a product owned by Kimberly-Clark Corporation. “We sat down and thought about how we could make a difference and a partnership with United Way was a no-brainer as Kimberly-Clark and United Way have had a long-standing relationship for 65 years.”

So, this plan to help was three-fold—three-ply, if you will. Cottonelle was in a unique position to get these products into people’s hands.

They started with a donation on behalf of the brand of $1 million dollars to United Way Worldwide’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, and the organization would put those funds to use all over the country addressing the health and economic crisis in communities.

The second element was a donation of 1 million rolls of toilet paper, and the third part was a promise to donate $1 for every example of toilet paper sharing posted to social media using the hashtag #ShareASquare, through June 1, up to $100,000.

“#ShareASquare has driven a lot of great engagement,” Champa says. “We’ve seen thousands of posts across the country and we are doing all we can to make as much of an impact as safely as we can. And in all of that work, we decided to make this donation- we knew this was the right thing to do so that we could maximize help for others.”

About two weeks into March, major cities across the country began shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms and schools in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. As of May 12, the infectious disease, COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever and in severe cases, difficulty breathing, has infected more than 1.34 million people nationwide and killed more than 80,000. 

Businesses shut down in Atlanta and its surrounding communities, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on March 24 issued a “stay-at-home” order.

Social distancing guidelines were encouraged at the federal, state and local levels. On Wednesday, April 8, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended a statewide shelter-in-place order to roll on through the month of April, but he announced plans two weeks later to begin rolling back those orders to begin re-opening certain businesses previously deemed “nonessential.”

As Georgia began to feel the impact of this economic shutdown, local nonprofits were being called on for additional help, and when UWW set out to distribute the toilet paper rolls from Cottonelle, United Way of Greater Atlanta was one of the first set to receive the gift.

Cottonelle shared more than a square with Greater Atlanta, though. United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Gifts-In-Kind warehouse is set to receive more than 50,000 rolls to distribute to local nonprofits in the coming months.

“We have the room here for pallets and pallets of toilet paper,” says GIK Facility Manager Ann Daane says. “Everybody is asking for toilet paper, and these are critical, especially for a lot of families that aren’t financially secure—they are coping with having children at home and all of the issues for those families and economic issues, food security, housing and now tissue issues on top of that.”

Daane says the first truckload came in around 9 a.m. the week of April 1, and she expects more shipments in the coming weeks.

“This is a great way for Kimberly-Clark to make an impact on communities in ways that people will definitely appreciate,” Daane says.

Champa says the #ShareASquare campaign has shown just how much a gift like this can affect a person’s life.

“It’s been really cool to see real-life impact and families sharing with children, friends, neighbors and strangers,” he says.

If you would like to make a difference in the lives of those across Georgia who are feeling the impact of this economic and health crisis, donate today to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund and provide resources and supports for nonprofits across the Greater Atlanta region and state of Georgia.