LBI woman keeps the spirit bright with national charity

It was cold around here last weekend—colder in Massachusetts, where Barbara Trucillito was staying, but she was warm with holiday spirit, especially on Sunday when she attended a party hosted by Mark Wahlberg.

Truncillito has been the Executive Director of a non-profit for close to six years. It’s called Dignity U Wear, and works with a variety of retailers to provide new clothing to those who can’t afford it. Mark Wahlberg is its national spokesman.

A former executive with Macy’s, Truncellito said for years she worked and lived in New York and vacationed in Barnegat Light.

“I bought a house in Barnegat Light 32 years ago, when people could afford to buy a house on LBI,” she said. She eventually became a full time resident of Barnegat Light.

She said six years ago, one of her former bosses, a vice president at Macy’s was having lunch with someone from Dignity U Wear, who said they were looking for a somebody in the Northeast who had certain skills to work for the nonprofit. The Macy’s exec immediately thought of Barbara Truncellito and recommended her for the job.

Within two years she was Executive Director for the entire charity.

Now, since it has expanded across the country, she heads up the Northeast region, from Washington to Maine.

“Headquarters for Dignity U Wear is in Jacksonville, Florida,” she said. “We are the only nonprofit in the United States that has it’s own warehouse.

“There are other organizations that provide new clothing to the needy, but what makes us different is that we provide the appropriate and exact size clothing to each recipient.”

Truncillito said every year, Wahlberg’s foundation, which works with a number of charities, sponsors a Christmas party for 250 children in need at the Tewksbury country club just outside Boston.

Dignity U Wear provided a duffle bag of new clothes to each child in attendance.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “A Santa Claus arrived by helicopter, and all the children were so excited. Just seeing the looks on their faces when they opened their gifts made my eyes well up. I came home feeling good and full of the Christmas spirit.

She will probably write a poem about it. She frequently writes poetry, and one of her poems will be published in the next “Echoes of LBI,” a glossy magazine published periodically throughout the year by Cheryl Kirby of Things A Drift in Ship Bottom.

As for Dignity U Wear, according to its website:

“Dignity U Wear helps people in need by providing new size specific clothing to our partnering non-profit social service agencies and school districts across the nation, with a focus on children, families in crisis, the homeless and veterans.

“Founder Henri Landwirth was born March 7, 1927 in Antwerp, Belgium.

“Between the ages of 13 to 18, Henri was shuffled among five Nazi death and labor camps; from Auschwitz to Matthausen, Gusen I and Gusen II and Ostrowitz. ‘You cannot imagine how it was,’ Henri says of the camps. ‘Auschwitz was my first realization that the camps were there for our extermination. I never expected to get out of there. I knew it would be a matter of time and I would be murdered like the rest.’

“At the end of the war, he and four other prisoners were marched into the woods to be shot, but at the last minute a Nazi soldier decided to spare their lives and told them to run into the woods when the shots were heard. ‘It is only a miracle that I am alive today,’ he says.

“But, Henri says, ‘From the darkness of the concentration camps, grew many compassionate, courageous and generous souls.’ One such soul, it turned out, was Henri Landwirth.

“When the war ended, Henri left his native Belgium. ‘With the Torah, and a $20 bill, I boarded this old rundown ship and worked my way to America as a deck laborer.’ Soon after he settled in New York, he received a letter from the President of the United States.

“ At first, Henri believed the President was welcoming him to America; it was actually a draft notice. After serving in the United States Army and learning English, Landwirth used his G.I. benefits to take a course in Hotel Management and landed a position in a New York City hotel, taking the opportunity to be taught every job in the hotel industry.

“Henri Landwirth moved to Florida in 1954, and soon managed the 100-room Starlight Motel in Cocoa Beach. Landwirth, now retired, had an innovating and tremendous career in the hotel industry for over 50 years. His career spanned the wide spectrum of positions from bellboy to management to ownership of many successful Central Florida hotels. For the last 20 years, he has devoted himself to improving the lives of those in need.

“Landwirth’s philanthropic career has been facilitated by his own family foundation named in honor of his mother, Fanny Landwirth. This foundation was started to encourage and promote philanthropy for future generations of the Landwirth family. To date, the foundation has provided the seed money for many successful and currently active charitable organizations, such as Give Kids The World, Memories of Love, A Gift for Teaching, Art with a Heart for Children, and, of course, Dignity U Wear.

“ ‘I started Dignity U Wear because I was in the concentration camps for five years with no clothes,’ says Landwirth. ‘After I left the camps, I was 18 years old and I was homeless. And I promised myself that one day, God willing, I would be able to help other people not to suffer as much as I did.’ To date, Dignity U Wear has distributed over 9 million pieces of clothing valued at over $160 million to people in need.”

To learn more about Dignity U Wear, become involved, make donations or sign up for a newletter, go online to www.dignityuwear.org

– Reposted from The app.com