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Housewares Charity Foundation to honor two industry veterans at annual gala

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Kathryn Bufano, president and chief merchandising officer of Belk, and Keith Jaffee of O2 Cool will be honored by the Housewares Charity Foundation during its 16th annual Housewares Charity Foundation Gala on Monday, March 4, during the 2013 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago.

Bufano will receive the Lifetime Humanitarian Award and Jaffee the Humanitarian of the Year Award during the gala, which will be held at the Chicago Hilton beginning with a reception at 6 p.m.

Bufano is president and chief merchandising officer of Belk, Inc., with more than 300 stores in 16 Southern states. In fiscal 2012, Belk posted sales of $3.7 billion. She joined the company in January 2008, becoming the highest ranking officer outside of Belk family members, and was promoted to her current position in August 2010. Bufano has a wide range of department and specialty store experience. Prior to Belk, she was CEO of Vanity Shops, a 200-store junior specialty chain based in Fargo, N.D. Bufano began her retail career in 1977 and has held key executive level and general merchandising posts with Sears, Dress Barn, Macy's and Lord & Taylor. Bufano is a member of the board of directors of the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, N.C.

Jaffee joined O2 Cool in 2011. The company designs, produces and markets "cool," creative and fun battery-operated misting and portable fans, water-cooling hydration products, outdoor accessories and novelty items. Prior to joining O2 Cool, Jaffee was CEO of Focus Products Group, which he co-founded in 2001. Focus owns several housewares companies, including Amco Housewares, Chicago Metallic, West Bend Housewares and Back to Basics Products, with the last two companies comprising the Focus Electrics Group. Prior to Focus Products, Jaffee served as president of the Store Fixture and Store Products Group at Leggett & Platt from 1997-2001. Before that, he served as president of Amco Corporation, a manufacturer of commercial storage systems and upscale housewares, from 1982-97. Jaffee was recently elected treasurer of the IHA Board of Directors.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the HCF's legacy charity. Since the first gala in 1998, HCF has raised more than $22 million and has contributed in excess of $12 million to BCRF. For the last four years, amid challenging economic times, the HCF has raised record amounts of more than $2 million each year.

BCRF was founded by Evelyn H. Lauder, a champion for finding a cure and prevention for breast cancer who passed away last November in New York City.

In addition to BCRF, the HCF board has directed that contributions also be made to two charities in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: the American Red Cross - Hurricane Sandy Relief and Long Island Cares, Inc. - The Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Co-chairs for the 2013 event are Phil Brandl, president of the International Housewares Association, and Ronald Diamond, president of Conair Corp. In a collaborative effort among industry manufacturers, retailers and allied industry partners, the nonprofit HCF hosts this annual event to raise funds for critical causes, unite the housewares industry and honor its leaders. Honorees are selected for their humanitarian efforts and exceptional leadership.

Along with the honoree tributes, the evening includes auctions and entertainment. Once again the dinner will be prepared by James Beard Award-winning chefs, this year including Dave Beran, Rick and Deann Bayless, Sarah Gruenberg, Hugh Acheson, Maricel Presilla, Emily Luchetti and Jacques Torres.

 

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