How To Provide Free School Clothes
2017 marks our 8th Annual Back To School Giveaway. This is an event that provides some 30 plus truckloads of items to area residents for free. It is an open to the public event that allows people to come and shop for free.
Barry and I aim to separate donations throughout the year for specific events such as this. For instance, Christmas trees are saved for the Christmas Giveaway, while backpacks, and other school supplies are saved for this event.
However, our main focus is on clothes and shoes.
We do not do a Backpack Program such as the Salvation Army Family Services provides in our region. The reason for this is simple—that would be a duplication of a worthy service already being provided. And that would result in a waste of time and resources to do something already being done.
This year’s Back To School Giveaway event will be held on August 26 and 27th. The location for this massive event is 375 Muskoka Beach Road, Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada.
Filling A Community Need
Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs aims to find gaps in services and find ways to fill those gaps. One of those gaps is the access to FREE clothing and footwear for all ages. Whether an infant, child, or adult, the need for clothing is huge.
And not just to have clothing items available at Thrift Shops for a cost. No, rather, the need in our region is huge for clothes to be available for FREE.
Barry and I are not special people, we are just ordinary people like you. Years ago, even as a single mother of 3, I was looking for ways to network with other families. Always trying to find ways to do clothing swaps, toy lending, and community play groups.
One need that we all seemed to have in common was trying to outfit our quick growing children in clothes and footwear. Although there are ages and stages where children will actually wear out their clothes, this is not always true. Some children grow so quickly that within a couple of months they are in the next size. What do you do with perfectly good clothes?
And how can you keep affording to buy new clothes in your budget? You need to find a way to be EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.
What struggles can you identify in your community?
Is This A Need In Your Community?
Although we focus specifically on the needs within our own region when it comes to the physical items, we realize the need is huge everywhere. That is why here at Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs we try to assist you by offering articles of empowerment. For instance by sharing the methods that we use to help our neighbors, perhaps you will be empowered to start something too.
It doesn’t take too much to organize an event in your community that will help not only you but your neighborhood too. For instance, you’ve noticed a clothing need in your own region.
How do you tap into the tremendous amounts of clothing that are just looking for new homes to be donated to?
With a little organization and gathering support from your local school board, and perhaps even business support of a storage unit afterwards, you can easily do a Clothing Swap.
Setting Up A Clothing Swap
You can arrange to hold a weekend Clothing Swap in your school gymnasium. People bring clothes, take clothes and share—all for free.
Do not charge:
- for tables,
- and do not require that people bring items to take items.
- All items available are FREE!
Remember, some people might be already handing clothes down in their own families and may not have items to bring. Their biggest need might be to outfit their oldest children.
Arrange to have items being donated dropped off a few days ahead, especially if you can set up in advance. If unable to set up in advance, don’t worry. People, we have found, love rummaging through the bags themselves anyways. In this case, have people bring their donations on the day of the event.
Make it clear that all clothing being donated must be clean—this is not an opportunity for people to donate dirty laundry! (Trust me, this happens more often than you might think!)
So, even if items need to be brought on the day of, have some volunteers unpack bags and start folding and piling clothes on tables. If possible, try to have tables set up for the boys clothes and a section for the girls clothes. Although in this day and age of non-gender nonsense, you may not be able to do this. But like I mentioned, people enjoy rummaging anyways.
For the footwear, dump and match the shoes in the center of the room. This makes it easy for people to pick through the footwear items.
Don’t forget to have some of the older students volunteer to assist by matching shoes and folding clothes. They are very capable of assisting at an event such as this.
What to do with any items left over?
Make a few different piles to deal with the leftover items:
- Pile 1: FUNDRAISER
- Stained clothing
- Torn clothing
- Skimpy or inappropriate clothing
- Out of Date or other items
- Pile 2: GARBAGE
- Worn out footwear
- Pile 3: REPURPOSE FOR ANOTHER EVENT
- Footwear in good repair
- Clothing in good condition
Pile 1: Fundraiser
Don’t panic—first off, go through them and pull out any torn or stained clothing items and bag them up separately. This portion and perhaps other items you will add to this pile will be used as a fundraiser as I’ll explain in a moment.
In fact, by having garbage bags and a corner of the room available on the day of your event, you can start this pile immediately. As your volunteers fold and set things up on tables, when they come across torn or badly stained items, they can start filling bags for this pile. Either before, during, or after the clothing exchange. This makes cleanup easier later.
This pile of items can be used to raise funds for either school trips or another community need. By contacting a group such as The Diabetes Clothesline and requesting to be a partner with them, your group will receive a small fee for every garbage bag or box of items you have available for them. In this way, this cloth is being repurposed, recycled, and money is being raised for Diabetes research. And you’ve been able to raise some funds for another worthy cause in your community/school.
Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs is able to raise a few hundred dollars a year by our partnership with the Diabetes Clothesline in our region.
Pile 2: Garbage
This is pretty self explanatory. When it comes to the footwear, if it is worn out on one side, holes, or crushed down heels, toss them in the garbage! These are not good for any child to reuse, so just toss them.
However, you will see that this will be the biggest item that is going to be bagged for garbage. With the bulk of the other items leftover we are showing you how to repurpose them either for a fundraiser or future clothing swap events.
Pile 3: Repurpose For Another Event
Lastly you need to determine what clothes and footwear should be saved over for the next Clothing Swap event. Bag these up and set them in a KEEP pile. Now, out of these did you find items that could come out of that pile? Perhaps they are just too out of date stylewise which would result in a child being bullied? Or they are too skimpy on material and just inappropriate to wear? Bag these items up and put in the first pile of bags with the torn and stained clothes items.
Sort out the footwear too. Footwear that is too worn out or holes in them, just dispose of in the garbage. Items that can be saved for area children, box up. Yes, boxes for shoes work better than bags. Any remaining footwear that is unlikely to work for area children such as too many fancy dress shoes with heels, just box up and set in Pile 1 with the torn/stained clothing.
Now you will have to arrange to store the items you are wanting to use for the next event. You will require a storage area that is not too damp or accessible to rodents. Perhaps a local business will be able to assist in this storage issue.
Evaluate And Schedule The Next Event
How did it go? What worked and what didn’t? Make notes and adjust as needed.
Typically if you are using a school facility to host these events, 3 times a year might be sufficient.
- At the beginning of the school year
- Beginning of the winter season if coats, boots, hats, and mitts are needed in your region
- Just before the summer break
This way, you and your children are able to swap out clothes that no longer fit each season.
So you now know how to provide free school clothes in your community. Be EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.