ClothingWorks Winter Giveaway

(posted: January 24, 2024)

ClothingWorks Winter Giveaway – November 25, 2023
SSVP Youth Conference – partnership with ClothingWorks
From preparation to clean up

Childrens' Section
Step #1 PREPARATION – Sorting, cleaning, and deodorizing Clothing. Set up Goodwill Industries Site: by Donna McCarrey – SSVP Youth Adviser
In preparation for the Winter Attire Giveaway with ClothingWorks, on November 25th, 2023, several members of our SSVP Youth Conference volunteered in many ways, to help make it a success.

We began several days beforehand doing preparation work at the Goodwill Industries Warehouse on White Oaks Road. It was there that we worked in teams, removing stains from the hundreds of donated coats. These coats were collected by Goodwill Industries, as well as several London businesses that held coat drives throughout the fall.

After stains were removed, each coat was sprayed inside and out with a deodorizer and packed away in bins, to be transported to the giveaway site, at the Goodwill Store on Horton Street. After the week of sorting there were 19 large gaylords for distribution.

On the Goodwill Industries site at Horton Street, London, our SSVP Youth Conference worked alongside our ClothingWorks partners. We began sorting and setting up racks and tables to display the many coats/parkas, pants, sweaters, hats, mittens, socks, and scarves. By the end of the day on Friday November 24th, everything was set up and ready to welcome our friends the next morning. They would be able to choose whatever attire they needed for themselves or their family members.

The Giveaway started at 9:00 am and went till either the supplies were gone or till 4:00 pm.

Step #2 – Back up Sorting and setting up supplies. By Aidan Jardine, Youth Executive Member
Whenever we have the opportunity to join the St Vincent De Paul Youth team and serve our community, we are always reminded that when we serve those in need, we are truly serving Jesus.

Clothing Works Clean Team
The ClothingWorks Winter Coat Giveaway on November 25th is one of our favorite events of the year, because we see the need and the impact on the people that we serve. Last year was the first time we volunteered with Goodwill, and we were surprised how quickly we ran out of supplies. This year the community did a fantastic job of gathering donations, and we expected to have clothes to last the full day and more. Before people were allowed to come in, we were assigned to the back room where we started by sorting the supplies by gender and age.

Within a half hour before we began, people were lined up completely down the stairs and outside the building. Many families were in the line with young children who were looking forward to their first winter in Canada so a winter coat would be invaluable.

Once people were let into the main room, our job in the back changed to hanging coats on racks, sorting accessories, and making sure the main room was always supplied with goods to distribute. We tried to always have a coat rack for each gender and age ready to go at all times. We worked together with an amazing team to make sure that we were supporting the “front room” so that they could get the clothing and coats into the hands of the people who needed them. We started the day with hundreds of coats and quickly hung them so that they could easily be seen and tried on by the many people who came to Goodwill that day. Our first thought was that we would never get through that many coats plus the additional sweaters, hats, and gloves. Much to our surprise, we were barely able to keep up with the demand and by noon we had emptied every bin on the floor!

Men's Section
We are thankful that we were able to work with such a great team and we are grateful to have a chance to serve others through the work of the St. Vincent De Paul Youth Society. This community is truly the hands and feet of Jesus, and we are blessed to be a small part of it.

Step #3 – Distribution to those in Need – Upfront team By: Natalie and Janet Mockler- Duketow – Youth and family member
Our family is new to the activities of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society Youth Conference, and this year's ClothingWorks Winter Clothing Giveaway was a wonderful way to dive in. Many willing spirits and hard-working pairs of hands came together in a well-orchestrated fashion to make this event of huge proportions run incredibly smoothly.

Friends and family members worked together "backstage" to sort through huge bins of donations so that racks of clothing for the "front of house" were kept organized and well-stocked. Volunteers were encouraged by an enthusiastic coordinating team from ClothingWorks and sustained by a yummy (and much appreciated) spread of snacks in the back room.

The shopping experience in the bright, sunny room that we had available for use must have felt like a bit of a whirlwind for each group that visited that day. So many beautiful faces came through the doors. Individuals, pairs, groups, and whole families arrived in a steady stream, and after a slightly frenzied flurry, each departed with good finds in hand. Hunting through piles of children's mittens and toques alongside the grinning little faces who would then wear them out the door was a highlight of the day. Their joy was a delight to behold!

It would have been so lovely to spend more time chatting with everyone who arrived that day; the stories they must have carried with them would have no doubt been fascinating, and worthy of both time and attention. Sadly, the demand for shopping time far outpaced the number of hours available in the day, and so people had to move through quite quickly.

Available clothing items dwindled before the crowds did, leaving a sense that an even bigger push for donations will be an important thing to strive for in years ahead.

Women's Section
We are grateful to the wonderful people who made this event such a success and look forward to being a part of the process again next year!

Step #4 – Clean up By: Lil Mulder SSVP Youth Adviser

Our second shift of volunteers arrived at 12:30 pm, some of us came from another event happening in Hyde Park, Hyde Park Lion’s Santa Claus Parade.

Once on site we notice the lack of supplies for distribution or the back room set up for the front team, everything was gone and what was left was straight up teardown and clean up for us to do.

Our second shift youth went right into it and relieved the first shift group that worked so hard in the morning.

Large Gaylords, bins, hangers, tables, chairs, and coat racks needed to be brought to their original space. The large gaylords needed to be brought to the back section of the Goodwill store to the shipping containers to be returned to the warehouse from where it came from.

Our shift ended up being only till 2:30 pm instead of 5:00 pm, the estimated time we thought our supplies would last till.

Those who waited diligently in the morning received an abundance of winter clothing, coats, and winter gear to make it through this winter season, perhaps for their first-time experiencing snow and cold weather. It is always a great feeling of success when the number of items is gone by noon, heart warming to know those less fortunate will be toasty warm and have a better chance of surviving the elements of Canada’s winter season. Our SSVP Youth Conference is blessed to be partnered with ClothingWorks, our like-minded goal to serve runs through our mission statement and our veins. A huge thanks to the many SSVP Youth members and their family members who volunteered for the day and to those who organized such an amazing event, a BIG shout out to Carol and Shirley from ClothingWorks! Thank you for letting our Youth and families help at your wonderful event! Such a privilege to be working alongside you both.

God bless everyone, from those who received, to those who served with love, respect, justice, and JOY.

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