No one was more surprised than Chicago’s Jud Kinnucan and Geeta Singh when ABC-TV came calling.
The nonprofit that Kinnucan founded and Singh directs, Bin Donated was chosen to be featured on the show “Secret Millionaire.” Businessman Steve Kaplan of Buffalo Grove was the featured secret millionaire, in an episode based in Chicago.
One day, Kinnucan was putting barrels around Chicago businesses and residential buildings for people to donate items to be given to charities, and the next, he was accepting a $75,000 check from Kaplan, who showed up unannounced and anonymous, to volunteer. Kaplan was so impressed with Bin Donated’s unique model that he wrote the check in support of Kinnucan’s efforts.
The show aired July 1, and soon after, Bin Donated had acquired 600 new Facebook “likes” from viewers nationwide.
That same weekend that the show aired, it was business as usual as Kinnucan and Singh held a charity giveaway sponsored by BMO Harris Bank that distributed over 8,000 pounds of donated toiletries from Chicago-based H20 Plus as well as hotels.
“Over 40 charities came to pick up items and each left with 300-400 pounds, worth $5,000-$10,000,” says Singh.
About 45 percent of Bin Donated’s activities involves collecting partly used toiletries from 30 Chicago hotels by putting bins in their housekeeping departments, and distributing them to charities that include homeless shelters.
“We are a logistics business whose customers are nonprofits,” says Singh.
It’s backbreaking work, as Kinnucan demonstrated at a loading dock on the ABC show. Each bin, once full, weighs about 200 pounds, and Kinnucan has been doing much of the heavy lifting himself. He poured his life savings into Bin Donated, and now the $75,000 from Kaplan has enabled him to pay Singh to help him take the nonprofit to the next level. According to Singh, since the show was filmed in September, Kaplan has also given Bin Donated office space in a River North building.
In addition to toiletries, Bin Donated does toy, coat, book and bike drives. During the holiday season, Bin Donated placed bins in over 120 Bank of America branches for a toy drive that collected 2,500 items for the Walter Connie Payton Foundation. Bin Donated collected the bins, sorted and delivered them. They’re doing it all out of two rented storage lockers.
Bin Donated is seeking potential board members, connections to Chicago companies that would like to sponsor drives and other volunteers as they seek to implement a new financial plan that builds on their new visibility, thanks to Secret Millionaire. To get involved, visit bindonated.org or contact Geeta Singh, executive director, at [email protected].