Winter Warmers Community Clothing Collection

Each year a friend of mine sleeps rough in a cardboard box for 10 nights in the middle of winter. It’s his way of raising awareness of the plight of many people in our area who are homeless or face the prospect of losing their home.

Ripple’s community project looks for ways of spreading kindness and impacting groups of people who for whatever reason, may be finding life particularly tough. When we organized our pamper day, we were able to give 65 people who care for someone with a disability a day just for them. We wanted to assure them that their struggles don’t go unnoticed and that people understand the ongoing challenges they face. Over 40 incredible people put their hand up to volunteer on the day and the carers left our venue feeling grateful to be able to take a day off and forget their worries while being treated to things they’d normally go without.

Getting back to my friend… as I visited him at his make shift home (a box with a tarp over it), I was touched by the empathy he had for this underground group most people know nothing about. It occurred to me that the homeless are really prominent in the city. As you walk the streets, you pass many sitting with torn cardboard signs asking for a hand, but in the suburbs where we live, they’re mostly hidden.

Being a self funded project, we don’t have oodles of money to put into a solution, but we do have a voice, and we decided to use it. We put out a call on social media and partnered with some local businesses who kindly offered to be drop off points for clothing, bedding and shoes.

When we set this up for the local paper, we thought we were doing well, but what came in after was way beyond our expectations.

When we set this up for the local paper, we thought we were doing well, but what came in after was way beyond our expectations.

Over the course of 6 weeks, we received a whopping 900 kg in donations. As you can imagine, our home has looked like an op shop for quite some time, but we were beyond thrilled with the response.

My son happened to have community service with school at the time we were to start our distribution and they generously offered his services to us for a whole week.

It was an incredible learning experience for him as we sorted clothing, liaised with our charities and organized our pop up clothing shops. During that week we were able to visit two local food services where we set up and served our patrons as if they were shopping in a store. The only difference was that they were able to chose what they wanted and walk away without having to pay.

An extremely grateful customer at our pop-up clothing shop.

An extremely grateful customer at our pop-up clothing shop.

We encountered one lovely gentleman who was obviously sleeping rough. Though he had little to give, he was adamant he needed to pay for his items. When I explained that’s not how it works today, he was quite excited to give a hug as payment instead. His gratitude was obvious as he hung around for hours, popping over to chat whenever my son or I had a moment we weren’t serving and made a point to thank us again before he left.

We’ve been quite taken by the response and generosity of the people who gave. We were humbled by the passion and effort the charities were we able to supply have for helping others. One of the centre managers we dealt with told us that though it’s quite a stressful job, it’s the most rewarding she’d ever had.

Incredible generosity by the lady who knitted these beautiful beanies and left them at one of our drop off points.

Incredible generosity by the lady who knitted these beautiful beanies and left them at one of our drop off points.

We’re incredible grateful to our wonderful partners Methven Real Estate, Chirnside Park Community Centre and Montrose Uniting Church. They were so generous in being drop off points and we honestly couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you all for caring.

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