Tom Zengeler, Libertyville Rotary Sunrise Club

Tom Zengeler has collected thousands of prom dresses and winter coats for those who can’t afford them. But that’s not all.

 

A dry cleaner, he also refurbishes the garments so they look like new.

When Tom Zengeler first learned about the Glass Slipper Project, a charity that outfits low-income students for prom night, he thought it was a good fit for his family’s dry cleaning business. He also thought greater impact could be made if his Rotary club, the Libertyville Rotary Sunrise Club, got behind it as well. The members agreed. Over the past decade, they have collected more than 15,000 dresses, plus accessories, for an estimated retail value of more than $5 million. Zengeler’s crews clean, repair and press the donations.

Two years ago the club launched a similar drive, Coats for Vets, to collect winter outerwear for homeless veterans. Zengeler handles the processing of those items as well—more than 3,000 this past winter.

Zengeler is the fifth-generation president of Zengeler Cleaners, a family owned business since 1857. The company has eight locations and a long-standing tradition of supporting community organizations.

“We’re not able to help in large, drastic ways, but in minor ways we can help a lot of people,” he says.

The family also shares a long history with Rotary. Zengeler’s father is a charter member of another Libertyville club. Next year he will celebrate his 50th year as a Rotarian. Zengeler is a charter member of his club. Next year he will celebrate his 25th year.

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