Communicating Through Clothes

The Problem

The City of Miami, Florida, is the second poorest urban area in the United States. Tragically, thousands of people, mainly children, are without proper clothing or shelter. One in three Miami children lives below the poverty level. This sad reality is contrasted with the extreme wealth of other Miami-Dade communities, such as South Beach and Fisher Island. About three years ago, my friends and I decided to contribute back to the community by collecting clothes for donations to homeless charities. We soon found ourselves with more than 60 hefty bags of clothes. Our target this year is to exceed that number and to use any other funds available for the purchases of new school items for children, such as backpacks and school supplies. Any money left over would be given, as a cash donation, to the two charities.

Plan of Action

Since the sixth grade, my friends and I have undertaken a service project in which we collect the nearly new used clothing of all the students at Miami Country Day School. As a private school, we are privileged to have collections of lovely designer clothes to recycle for the homeless. Once we separate the clothing and ensure that all the buttons and zippers are intact, we take them to the Miami Rescue Mission and the Community Partnership for the Homeless. This year, my plan is to expand the project by challenging each student to gather an extra bag of clothing by asking neighbors and friends for donations.

Project Updates

Since the beginning of October, I have been shopping for children's clothing, planning the clothing drives at school and visiting the shelters with the goods I purchased. (Photos are being sent by regular mail.) Thanks to a successful drive at school, we have collected 40 bags of quality used clothing in children's sizes. We also have some lovely items for parents.

The visit to the shelters was one of the most inspiring short trips I have ever taken. I will never forget the happiness I brought with clothes purchased from the Do Something grant money. At the first shelter, the director engaged everyone in a thankful prayer. At the second shelter, the clothes were brought in to the children's playroom and they were so excited to see all the packages.

Next week, the two shelters have arranged to pick up the 40 bags of used clothing for the families at the shelters. I am happy to know that I have had a part in making their holidays happier this year.

Thanks to my mom's patience and encouragement, I was able to follow through with my project (Communicating Through Clothes). My parents are committed to charitable causes and they have influenced me. My next step is to continue this project with a grant application for a BRICK Award.

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