Thursday, December 1, 2011
Seated at The High Point at Allens Lane, meeting over coffee to plan an event, my mini-backpack caught Sue Wasserkrug’s eye. “Funny, I once had backpack that looked just like that”, she commented, quizzically. “Well… did you donate it to the GJC Women’s Clothing Giveaway?” Having just met, we looked at each other and burst out laughing. Sue meeting up with her old backpack, one of my favorite Giveaway finds, totally captures the whimsy and heimishness of our annual happening.
Not only was this hilarious, it solved a challenge for me: what on earth to say, writing about the Giveaway for the sixth time? In truth, though, our Giveaway has grown and evolved in many new ways, due to the creativity, planning, and hard work of many devoted volunteers from Women’s Club and the Social Action Committee. Sue, by the way, is a neighbor who volunteers at the event, too.
Last year the Swap took a quantum leap, becoming the Giveaway. One of our challenges was the enormous surplus of donated clothes left at the end. Marcy Bacine reached out to day care centers and organizations that support low income women around the city, inviting them as guests to the event; many enthusiastically attended. Our beautiful marquee Lincoln Drive sign, featuring the stunning papercut by our own Mindy Shapiro, helped build excitement. As a result, we tripled our attendance, raising over $4500 to donate to Darfur refugees, and had way less clothing leftover. (The remainders are donated to Whosoever Gospel Mission in Germantown.) Our permanent website helps with social networking. Rivkah Walton has created lovely fliers and other PR materials. We have created something really exciting and impactful!
Genie Ravital has coordinated this event since she dreamed it up back in the day. She has developed systems that work beautifully, kept track of details like who can lend dress racks, where the signs are stored, how many tables we need. Our volunteers are seasoned as well, often pitching in as personal shoppers, with Connie Katz heading up food and details.
Last year there was some worry that there might be a riot when so many women showed up prior to the opening at 11:00 AM, but everyone managed to find clothing without pepper spraying other shoppers. Many happy women walked out with large designer shopping bags (donated, of course) full of gently used clothing. Throughout the day, additional garments were continually added to the tables, as women laid out donations before commencing their own hunting and gathering expeditions.
Women For Women International is this year’s beneficiary. Nicholas Kristof recommends its important work with women survivors of war and conflict. Of the dozens of wonderful organizations working globally to help lift up women, this one best expanded the Darfur Alert path we have taken, but also we love its name. Women For Women pretty much sums up what the day is all about.