"Always do what you can to help and encourage others to help each other. Don't do something out of pressure so step away if you feel you should."
It was late spring and some horrible tornadoes had ripped through several US towns leaving thousands homeless. It left thousands without clothes as well. I was looking at an overstuffed closet feeling pretty darn greedy. I wanted to donate what I could to these misplaced families. I couldn't. Red Cross doesn't accept clothing. So there I was. With too much. Wanting to help people. Cannot.
Why not donate to Goodwill? Because I know there are folks in my area that cannot even afford to shop anywhere, even if it's Goodwill. Then I think of how many people could be in need. And I bet they all don't happen to wear my size! Men, Women, Teen Girls, Teen Boys, Girls, Boys, Toddler Girls, Toddler Boys, Infant Girls, Infant Boys. I couldn't help much even if I announced that they could come by my house!
A month or so rolls by when I'm struck with an idea. The idea was overwhelming. I had to act. It was just one of those things.
I called up my (at the time) christian girl group friend and shared this news. I called the next. They were encouraging and embracing the idea with a sense of importance. I was motivated to set the project in motion. It became the Community Clothing Swap and it goes like this: Announce location for a set date along with set hours. Folks in the community bring the clothes they want to donate and they shop through what others have brought. Perfect!
So what did we do? Well, we got in touch with the local Ruritan Club and they agreed to host our event. I went on the radio with the Mayor of our town and promoted this heavily.
And so we had it and so it was great!
There were leftovers- A LOT. People had donated trash bags full of clothes and shoes and more. When my group discussed this before the fact, we agreed to have a charity pick it up. This didn't happen. One of the girls called up a local church and wanted to store all this stuff. I'm talking 3 truck loads of stuff.
I wasn't happy. I mean this isn't my business and I'm not the president of the event, per say, but I still felt pretty pissed! This isn't what was discussed. Moreover, it was an incredibly freaking hot ass day, not to mention record high humidity and we're packing the shit up. (sense the giving heart has turned).
Alright, we schedule our next swap- I handle the website, the contact with mayor the poster designs and printing. Meanwhile, I am arguing back and forth with the group about storing (now crap) in between Swaps! Their argument was that GOD blessed them with all the clothes and it should be kept, no matter how much hard work had to go into it.
My argument was, the first swap went fine... after another swap, we'll be overwhelmed. I will tell you, I am not a fan of too much work. Besides, if GOD blessed the first swap, would he not the second? Geez.
And then a second swap- we went to the church and picked up the 3 truck loads of stuff. It had been stored in a basement, inside cardboard boxes. Guess what that combination invite? mold and roaches.
There were some people who came to the swap that felt in their hearts to donate money. One of the girls took it. I was pissed. We are not charity. We don't take money.
Their argument- it'll be used to buy storage boxes. Then someone donated a baby crib. One of the girls rallied to AUCTION the crib. I was pissed. We are not charity. We don't take money.
Their argument- we can get enough money to pay for a storage unit to store all this stuff. I announced I was out. I was out of it all. I had become so infuriated that I am no longer friends with the 6 girls.
Next thing you know, they are auctioning off "big ticket items" that have been donated at swaps for money- their goal- $1000. No accounts. No accountability in money handling. I saw a money making thing that I wanted no part of. Everyone on the outside was upset with me because I didn't keep the swap, since it was my idea. A part of me felt the same way. A part of me wanted to keep the Community Clothing Swap as my own thing. But I was struck with a comforting feeling. And I was reassured....I wanted to have a swap and I got to have a swap. Two of them, actually! Mission completed.
Moral of the story is this. Always do what you can to help and encourage others to help each other. Don't do something out of pressure so step away if you feel you should.