What: Sorting clothing donations
Where: Baby Buggy HQ in the Fashion District
When: Tuesday and Wednesday nights, 6-8pm, through New York Cares
When you first walk into the Baby Buggy warehouse, you’ll notice something.. Plastic bins. They’re everywhere. Stacked on shelves and on the floor, they are filled to the brim with donations from all sorts of people and corporations. The tasks assigned to volunteers are different each night; our job for the night I was there was sorting clothing by size, and also sorting through a new donation for mutilated clothing. Whatever the task, there will be bins everywhere. Oh yes, there will be bins.
We started by going through donations that had been mended and fixed by the previous group of volunteers. We separated everything according to age and size until all 15 bins were empty (to be filled with new donations of course!). After we finished, we started a new, tedious task of sorting through a new donation; coming from a corporate retailer, the defects were few and far between, but hard to find, so one had to have a keen eye for detail in finding the tiny tears or holes. The next group of volunteers would undoubtedly be tasked with fixing the defected donations, and the group after that tasked with sorting by size. A beautiful cycle of repair and reuse to benefit the 500,000+ impoverished children of NYC.
According to their website, Baby Buggy is “a non-profit organization dedicated to providing New York City’s families in need with essential equipment, clothing, and products for their infants and young children. Since 2001, Baby Buggy has delivered over 4,000,000 essential items to thousands of families through our network of over 50 qualified social service partners.” These social service partners operate across the five boroughs and include “Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Shelters, Sanctuary For Families, the Harlem Children´s Zone, the NYC Administration for Children and Families Head Start Programs, the NYC Department of Homeless Services, and the NYC Health and Hospital Corporation, as well as many other community-based organizations city-wide.”
Baby Buggy differs from Room to Grow (another organization that serves women and children in poverty) because they distribute their donations to community-based organizations, or satellites as I call them, as opposed to Room to Grow, whose clientele go directly to the source to “shop” for their items. So although they serve a similar population, this is one major difference that sets them apart. In addition, Room to Grow operates in multiple cities, whereas Baby Buggy exists solely to benefit New Yorkers in need.
The way Baby Buggy mends their clothing was also quite nifty. They used decorative adhesives to cover and patch holes; many of the girl’s clothing I sorted had small butterflies on them, and I didnt realize why until half way through the project. They also used what looks like the same material as fabric bandaids, to close up tears in pants and shirts on the inside, so that the rip was imperceptible on the outside. Genius, really. I may try to find this for my own wardrobe-I hate to sew! Speaking of which, here are some other things to know:
-This is a great project for those of you who enjoy sewing or otherwise mending clothing. You can call ahead and find out which night that volunteer project might be going on (I went through New York Cares, and that seems to be the best way to volunteer as an individual)
-Unlike other sorting projects, Baby Buggy had some tunes playing, making the atmosphere a bit more relaxed. You’ll also be standing around a large table with about 10 other volunteers; get to know one another, as it will make the night go faster and you may make a new friend!
-Baby Buggy takes gently used and new clothing, product and gear for children 0-4 years old. To arrange a drop-off, pick-up, or info organizing a drive, visit this page.
-Baby clothes are soooooo cute.