A local company is collecting used bras to help women who need a lift.

Ahwatukee Foothills-based Omnimount will collect bras through the month of May to benefit The Bra Recyclers, an organization that distributes high-quality undergarments to women in need.

The goal is to collect 1,000 bras by the end of the month, said Annette Carrier, director of brand marketing for OmniMount, a company that makes home entertainment wall mounts and furniture.

The Bra Recyclers, formerly known as Bosom Buddy Recycling, was created in late 2008 to fill a need in local shelters - specifically, while a lot of people donate clothes to women in need, not many donate bras, said owner and founder Elaine Birks-Mitchell.

So a local shelter may provide a woman with a nice business suit to wear for job interviews, but might not be able to provide the supportive clothing to go under it, Birks-Mitchell said.

"It's something that most people don't think about, and they don't realize it's such a necessary item for women," Birks-Mitchell said. "A lot of women that we're providing bras to, they're transitioning back into the workplace. They need the appropriate undergarments."

The Gilbert-based business has been growing in popularity. It collected 20,000 bras in 2009 and another 20,000 in the first quarter of 2010.

The Bra Recyclers now support 15 shelters and women's organizations across the country, including two that specifically collect bras for women who have had breast surgery, Birks-Mitchell said. Other bras have benefitted international needs, including groups in Kenya and Haiti.

Any bras that can't be reused are recycled. Some buyers overseas are able to recycle underwire and have a variety of uses for cloth, Birks-Mitchell said.

"They can be scrapped for the various pieces that they have," she said. "Any cloth can be recycled and used for something else, whether it's rags or threads."

OmniMount took an interest in collecting bras because it fulfills two company goals: recycling and giving back, Carrier said.

OmniMount has taken an interest in being greener in the past few years, Carrier said. That has meant everything from evaluating the packaging the company produces to having company recycling bins to encouraging employees to carpool.

The company also does service projects regularly. So when an opportunity came up for a project that would both help women who couldn't afford bras and prevent used undergarments from ending up in landfills, it was a perfect fit, Carrier said.

"This effort is very much about giving back to the community and the environment," she said.

There will be a bra collection site outside OmniMount, 8201 S. 48th St., during May.

Donations may also be mailed to the business and must be accompanied by a donation form. OmniMount will have weekly drawings for Victoria's Secret gift cards and a grand prize drawing for a flat screen TV and mount at the end of the month for people who donate.

For more information on how to donate, visit www.omnimount.com/BRAvo.


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