I'm starting a nonprofit to help clothe children in need on Long Island.
My inspiration began this summer while volunteering at the Back to School Boutique my mom started at her church back in 2013. As a retired teacher, she began collecting the Lost and Found at her school, along with donations from her church congregation. With these simple beginnings, she began clothing neighborhood children whose families were receiving assistance from the church. Fast-forward to 2017, this Back to School Boutique is now clothing more than 80 students each year!
When I experienced a boy's cry of excitement because he could go to school in a Nike sweatshirt, along with a mom's tears of joy seeing her daughter's delight at selecting a beautiful dress, it moved me to want to bring that joy to even more families.
I would like to expand on my mother's mission. Making this boutique mobile will allow me to bring this service to many Long Island communities in need. With each community the Boutique begins to service, I plan to collect clothes from the local schools' lost and found and ask for donations from the parish church. This way communities are directly giving back to their neighbors by recycling clothing children no longer wear to those in need.
At the end of each August, all the remaining clothes are brought to other local charities. One charity sells the clothing we donate for less than $3 each and uses the money to help finance their food pantry. Another outreach center provides the clothing to low-income families and the homeless of their community. The expansion of the boutique will allow us to continue working with our partnering charities and expand to a larger scale and support others.
Most clothing that is donated through donation bins found in neighborhood parking lots, is often sold for pennies on the dollar overseas by for-profit recycling firms. Many times the clothing is shredded to make insulation here in the United States. I feel it is important to give communities on Long Island an organization which accepts their gently used clothing and makes sure it goes directly to people in need.
"85% of textiles are simply thrown away each year rather than reused" according to The Council for Textile Recycling. By reusing clothing we are helping to reduce the amount of waste in our landfills.
As a teacher, I know how much pressure children face in school and clothing/fashion is a HUGE self-confidence builder for students. Providing students with current fashions helps to alleviate social anxiety and allows children to focus on academics and building strong relationships with their peers. Your donations will help me begin my mission.
It will allow me to secure a storage space in order to accept, sort, and organize clothing donations, along with start-up basics such as web design, legal fees, and advertising. (see chart below)
I choose the name Starfish Swap
based on the inspirational The Starfish Story
with the reminder that sometimes changing a life starts with one small gesture of kindness.
Please donate, and together we will be,
"Making a difference, one outfit at a time."