KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A small Kansas City business is making a global impact, helping people gain access to water around the world.
Dawn Taylor and Christina Eldridge launched Red Dirt in April 2013. Both from fundraising backgrounds, they decided to create a business that had a philanthropic element built into every product sold. Red Dirt sells cell phone cases, each specially designed by an artist. For every case sold, $5 goes to the non-profit Water.org.
"Both Christina and I have done volunteer work in Africa and we've seen the results of having either inadequate water or unhealthy water," Taylor said.
Water.org is headquartered in downtown Kansas City. It was founded in 1990 by Gary White and actor Matt Damon. Its mission is to empower people around the world by giving them access to clean, safe water and the dignity of a sanitary toilet. Since 1990, it has brought more than a million people these very basic necessities.
"Today, nearly one in eight people around the world don't have access to safe drinking water and nearly twice as many people don't have a sanitary toilet," said Nicole Wickenhauser, Senior Development Director at Water.org. "It's amazing, but there are actually more people who have a cell phone than a toilet."
Wickenhauser said it only takes $25 for the organization to be able to provide clean water and a sanitary toilet to one person for the rest of their life.
"It's very hard for people in the developed world to understand how hard it is to get clean water in the undeveloped world," Eldridge said.
In some areas, the responsibility of collecting water falls on women and children. For some, it can take an entire day walking for hours to reach a water source that isn't even safe to drink.
"Right now, every 21 seconds, a child dies of a water related disease," Eldridge said. "And it doesn't have to be that way."
Because of their experience with fundraising, Eldridge and Taylor know how difficult it can be for non-profits to maintain a constant stream of revenue. That's why they took a business approach, knowing through their products they can make a difference.
"Providing clean, safe water for people in the developing world is a game changer," Taylor said. "It can keep them healthy. It can keep kids in school if they don't have to go fetch water every day."
Friday morning, Eldridge and Taylor will present Red Dirt's first donation of $5,000 to Water.org, ensuring water for life for roughly 200 people.
"For us, having such a substantial donation in our first year to bring clean water to that many people is just really thrilling and humbling at the same time," Taylor said.
Wickenhauser said this $5,000 gift will change the life of so many people forever.
"It'll be a huge help," she said. "And for each and every person that receives safe water, the dignity of a toilet as a result of that, it's going to mean the world itself."
To learn more about Water.org and its efforts to provide safe water, visit www.water.org.