Tag Archives: clothing donation

Sorting With Baby Buggy

6 Aug

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.

Sorting with Room To Grow

25 Mar

What: sort through donated clothing, through New York Cares

Where: Room to Grow, East Midtown

When: Tuesday, 5:30-7:30pm

Room to Grow is a Manhattan-based non-profit supporting babies in poverty throughout their first three years of life, providing parents with one-on-one parenting support and essential baby items throughout their children’s critical stages of development. As such, they receive a LOT of donations from the generous public, large corporations, and retail stores; someone needs to go through everything and separate the good from the bad, and definitely get rid of the ugly. That’s where you come in, new volunteer!

When you first arrive at Room to Grow, you’ll take a seat on the couch and listen to some simple instructions. Since they have so many different offerings there (toys, clothing, books,etc), your instructions may be different than mine but the idea is the same: keep anything that looks new, get rid of anything you wouldn’t buy in a store yourself. Our task for the night was to do a preliminary sorting of clothing donations, separating everything by age and taking out anything that wasn’t wearable. It wasn’t difficult, and the time flew by as I picked through bag after bag of adorable baby clothing. Anything that I was unsure of, I held up and waited for one of the staff or head volunteers to give a thumbs up or thumbs down. The simple, repetitive task was actually one of the most calming activities I’ve participated in after a long day of work, second only to my brownie-stuffing experience at God’s Love We Deliver. My foot falling asleep every 5 minutes was the only reminder that I was, in fact, still conscious- otherwise, it was quite meditative.

The place itself was immaculate (get a 3D tour here), and I think I’d actually prefer to shop for clothing here than in a retail store; its a relaxed, organized environment with everything one would need to outfit a baby for a few years, all in one room. Also, its free (which is a pretty amazing deal). They are also VERY thorough; after our initial sort, the next group will give everything a second look before putting it on the rack. Anything that doesn’t make the cut moves further down the donation chain; Good Will and the Salvation Army for the less than perfect items, and those that can’t be salvaged? Their fate is to become insulation for houses. Other things to know:

  • Be prepared to sit on the floor for two hours, or at the very least, be hunched over a pile of donations for an extended period of time (read: bad back or bad knees-> call before going to see what the day’s project is).
  • If you’ve got baby fever but aren’t ready to have a baby, do not volunteer here. The power of tiny outfits on a woman is bizarre and the enigmatic force thrives here, so beware. I mean, have you seen how tiny those shoes are?!
  • If you donate, know that anything you give will in some way be used, by someone, or something. However, if your kid has a propensity for spaghetti flinging and drooling uncontrollably (pretty much sums up my childhood…and college), and now you’re looking to get rid of their “gently used” vomit-covered onesies, give it to someone else. Room to Grow only uses like-new donations, and for good reason.
  • This isn’t just a place for poverty-stricken women to pick out cute outfits; it’s a lot more than that. Its a support system made up social workers, providing information and necessities to parents who have been referred by a selected group of prenatal programs in the city. For more information, visit their website. And of course, you can volunteer directly with them.