Holland America Line and the Port of San Diego are debuting Ship to Shelter, an innovative community charitable program designed to donate valuable and reusable goods from the line’s cruise ships to local people in need. Holland America Line first launched Ship to Shelter in April 2008 in partnership with the Port of Seattle in Washington and expanded the program to Port Everglades, Florida, this past January.

Partnering with Alpha Project, the Port of San Diego will work with the Seattle-based cruise line to donate items from its ships that regularly sail from San Diego. The goods will be distributed to individuals and families in need by Alpha Project.

In addition to the weekly donations of individual-sized toiletries, Holland America Line periodically will provide other items such as dishes, cookware, silverware, televisions and more. The program kicks off in San Diego with ms Statendam, ms Ryndam and ms Oosterdam providing hundreds of items that would otherwise have been discarded.

“Giving back is part of the corporate culture at Holland America Line and it is part of our corporate social responsibility,” said Richard D. Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “Over the years Holland America has worked with nonprofits around the world to donate reusable goods in a socially conscious, environmentally friendly method. These items are periodically replaced on our ships and can be put to good use for a worthy cause.”

The Ship to Shelter program incorporates strategic partnerships between the Port of San Diego, Alpha Project and Holland America Line to provide partially used stateroom amenities that are no longer needed on cruise ships for re-use by the needy, while providing an environmentally friendly solid waste disposal solution.

Holland America Line will continue to donate other items from various San Diego–based ships from January through April and October through December each year.

The Port of San Diego has been instrumental in implementing the program. “We all know that the cruise industry provides great economic benefit to our region, and now they also are providing an important charitable benefit,” said Stephen P. Cushman, chair of the Board of Port Commissioners. “The Ship to Shelter program exemplifies the port’s commitment to social responsibility – finding a way for us and our partners to give back to the community and ensure that everyone benefits from the business of the Port.”

Alpha Project for the Homeless is a nonprofit human services organization that serves over 2,000 men, women, and children each day and 12,000 annually. Services offered include affordable housing, residential substance abuse treatment, supportive housing for people with special needs, basic and emergency services for the homeless, employment training and other community services.

“There is an incredible shortage of basic toiletry items in the needy community,” said Bob McElroy, president and chief executive officer, Alpha Project. “We often take the availability of these items for granted, and with the generosity of the Ship to Shelter program, we will be able to help fulfill this need for so many people.”

From flowers to fuel and milk to wine, Holland America Line’s cruise operations have a significant economic impact on San Diego with 56 turns a year. Yearly, that impact totals nearly US$83.5 million and nearly 80,000 guests embarked or debarked in San Diego, the premium line’s major port in Southern California. Holland America Line’s economic impact includes staffing at the cruise terminal, provisioning ships, refueling, passenger spending, crew spending, port fees and taxes, and marketing and sales expenditures in the region.

In addition, the company has supported several local organizations such as San Diego Opera, San Diego Zoo, Rady Children’s Hospital, North Coast Repertory Theatre, UCSD Moore’s Cancer Center, Las Patronas and San Diego Girl Scouts through cash donations and in-kind support.