9 Apr 2018

Providing clothes for kids in need

From Afternoons, 1:42 pm on 9 April 2018

Kids seem to go through clothes as fast as you buy them, and if there are no brothers or sisters for hand-me-downs, there can be a lot of waste.

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Photo: Supplied

A programme in Wellington takes those clothes and footwear and gives them to children in need at decile one schools in the region.

The programme was initially called Clothing Buddies and was created and run by Jessica Hallett. Sarah Bacon took on the concept four years ago, setting up Forward Gear. She has almost 90 children from four schools on the books, who are matched with families at two donor schools.

“There’s a real need,” says Bacon, a former lawyer who now has a skincare company.

“An Office of the Children’s Commissioner survey said that children with experience of poverty talked about being cold and experiencing social exclusion and bullying because of poor clothing.

“Most of the Forward Gear kids … have about one or two sets of clothing but it’s not enough to fill up a week. It just gives them those extra options.”

The clothes she gets to distribute are often of “amazing quality” with a lot of wear left in them. “I think that people are just thrilled that they’re going to be used rather than end up in a clothing bin, which seems a bit of a waste.”

There’s no direct contact between the donor family and the child, but a kind of relationship builds up over the year, she says.

“You never meet them, but I think most of my families [have] a familial feeling towards this child, so as a result they often put in an extra jersey, maybe buy a coat if it’s really cold."

Bacon drops the clothing at the schools to be handed out by the principal to children taking part.

“Most of them get three quite large bags a year, which should be enough to sustain them for a little while and then hopefully they can then be handed down to smaller siblings.”

The kids are genuinely thrilled, she says. “It’s a bit like Christmas.”

She’s not planning to expand her programme but is keen to see people to start up similar ones, and is happy to provide the IT and paperwork she’s developed. Sarah Bacon is on sarah@forwardgear.org.nz