EDINA, Minnesota — All over the world, light and power are at people's fingertips thanks to XTorch.
The solar-powered, rechargeable device works as a flashlight, lantern and phone charger.
XTorch is now being used by families in more than 30 countries but it got its start in Edina, Minnesota.
Keidy Lora Palusky and Gene Palusky came up with the idea, drawing from their experiences doing mission work overseas.
"I'm from the Dominican Republic and we also did mission work in Equatorial Guinea, Africa. So we saw a common link and it was the lack of electricity and lack of power in developing countries," Keidy recalled. "We said, 'There must be another way of helping people.'"
The couple spent several years developing the XTorch. It's a family business. Gene's mother helps, along with their 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.
"They're all quality control," Gene said, laughing.
XTorch has four functions, the first being a flashlight. It can be used as a lantern that hangs from above or a table lantern, thanks to a sidelight. It's also a cell phone charger. The XTorch can be charged in the sun. It can also be plugged into a wall outlet and will charge in about an hour.
"You can run the sidelight here up to 48 hours. So it's really good for not only solar charging but also house charging and then having it with you when the power does go out," Gene said.
According to Gene, the XTorch can last about 7-10 years.
"You throw it on the ground 20 times; it'll just bounce and keep working," said Gene, adding that it also floats when put in water.
He estimates one XTorch can save a customer about $2,000 in batteries and waste that would most likely end up in a landfill.
Keidy and Gene have found the XTorch can be handy to have in any household but the heart of their work involves bringing reliable light and power to some of the most remote places.
They donate at least 25% of profits to disaster relief organizations.
"So far we've donated 100% of all of our profits in the whole duration of our business," Gene said. "It's so exciting because you get these pictures back of these kids holding these lights in these very, very poor environments and they're reading. It's a wonderful thing."
This year, they donated 2,000 devices that went to Haiti and the Colombia-Venezuela border. Since launching in 2014, they've donated more than 4,000 XTorches.
One of Keidy's favorite stories involves XTorches that were donated and bought to help survivors after Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
"Weeks later we get an email from this random person saying, 'Thank you so much for the XTorch. There was blackout for weeks and I got this XTorch. I could charge it in the sun and I could charge my cell phone to get in touch with my family that was worried about me.' And we were like, 'Yes! Yes! That's what we want to hear. That's what it's all about,'" Keidy recalled.
The more people who buy XTorch, the more the couple can donate to organizations.
Keidy said, "We are little by little making a difference in the world."
Next up, they are pursuing getting the XTorch in stores. You can buy it for $49.95 through their website or on Amazon.
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