If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer, look no further. Kids Love Clothes are desperately seeking people to give a small bit of time each month to learn how to pack gift bags for families in Lothian who need support to clothe their kids. Read on to find out more about this incredible venture…
Picture the scene. It’s Christmas Eve, and somewhere in Edinburgh a woman is thrown out of her own home by her husband. All she has with her are the clothes she is standing in – and her two children by her side. They don’t have any belongings, toys or games, or even a change of clothes for the kids. Thankfully, Kids Love Clothes were on hand to support this family and they woke up on Christmas Day to a wardrobe of clothes for both children, along with toys and games. Kids Love Clothes are supporting many mum’s who, through a variety of circumstances, are not able to provide a basic wardrobe of clothes for their kids.
Across the Lothians.
When my son turned eighteen months I packed every item of clothing that he had ever worn into a huge box. I was going to keep it FOREVER. Just because. Then a friend told me about Kids Love Clothes, the initiative which helps local families with young children living in Edinburgh and the Lothians by providing a much-needed bag of clothes for their children.With 882 kids receiving support in 2016 and a staggering 1,800 in 2017, it was time to let go of my son’s often barely worn items. It struck me that I’m probably not the only parent with a box of goodies gathering dust, so I put out a call on a local Facebook group asking people for donations.
One week in and I’ve already collected three car loads. As my hall looks increasingly like the back room in a charity shop I arranged to meet Fiona, the founder of Kids Love Clothes, over at the drop-off unit last night with the first car load. I don’t know what I was expecting to find but as I drove down a country lane on a cold, dark January night and found myself surrounded by disused barns I regretted being in the middle of the Dexter box set back at home.
Thankfully Fiona and her dog, Maisie, were there to greet me. As they walked me through the empty farm buildings and into the Kids Love Clothes barn my senses are struck with first the brightness of the electric light, followed by a sea of clothes and bags and then the smell – oh, that fresh, happy, summery smell of recently laundered clothes multiplied many, many times.
Over steaming hot coffee, Fiona explains to me how the charity came about. In 2009, after being invited to an adults clothes swap with friends, she began to think about how quickly children grow out of clothes and how draining that is for parents who can’t afford constant replacements. This led to her thinking more widely about mums who can’t afford any clothes for their kids. How do they get a summer and a winter wardrobe for their children? After nurturing the idea for some time she decided to try it out. It began with friends donating their children’s clothes and then one day a friend gave her a box containing every item of clothing that her eight-year-old daughter had ever worn (so it’s not just me then). Kids Love Clothes was born.
By 2013, the small operation based in Fiona’s spare room transferred to the barn that I now find myself in, and had become a registered charity. Everything about this is impressive. Fiona’s determination (along with the hard work of Jules, Linda, Denise, Christine and Lara, plus a further 100 volunteers who collect, sort and iron) and the abundant generosity of people across the Lothian region who are donating bags and bags of clothes along with bucket loads of their time. The clothes are often brand new, still with their tags on. One elderly woman uses her £100 heating allowance each year to buy clothes which she then donates. Consider that one bag of winter clothes may contain items to the value of approximately £450 – £500, donations such as these are gratefully received.
As I make my way back down the country lane, I realise that Kids Love Clothes is much more than a jumble of tops and trousers. If a mother has her pride and a sense of dignity, she is more likely to find and keep a job. She is more likely to engage with her community and take her child to places. A child who is wearing a warm coat and comfortable shoes is more likely to listen in class. This is about staying warm but it is also about education, employment, community and empowerment. It’s about providing the best start in life for hundreds of children.
- It takes roughly six hours to do one bag
- One gift bag has clothes for one child for between 7 – 10 days
- A winter bag includes –
- 3 pairs of pyjamas
- 1 dressing gown
- 4 or 5 dresses (and a party dress)
- Hats, scarves and gloves, vests, pants (up to a certain age)
- 7 – 10 fleeces
- 7 – 10 long sleeve tops
- 5 leggings or trousers
- Toys and books
- If needed, a basic school uniform can also be provided
How to get involved:
I’m going to pull together a group of friends to go along to sort and pack bags. If you’d like to do the same, please contact Kids Love Clothes.
Email Fiona: firstname.lastname@example.org or message Jules via Facebook