As ash continues to fall from the sky and emergency warning continue to come through, those affected by the fires need a whole lot more than just our thoughts. Some have lost just about everything – and that’s where organisations like Thread Together come into play – getting much-needed clothing to those who need it most (you can get involved here). We checked in with Anthony Chesler, CEO of Thread Together to learn a little more about what his team does … and why they do it.
“At Thread Together, we work to get these people brand new clothes. Thanks to partnerships with THE ICONIC and many others in the fashion industry, we work to send new, good quality clothing and shoes to people in our community who are doing it tough.
“Our model is simple: We work with the fashion industry to collect brand new excess and end-of-line clothes from around the country. We then distribute this clothing to vulnerable people in our community via a network of hundreds of charity partners and social services agencies.
“Right now, we are clothing close to 2,000 people each week – that’s >100,000 vulnerable people each year – thanks to a network of >250 charity partners.
"Among those we help are those in emergency accommodation, like women’s refuges; or who are homeless. We reach the unemployed, the under-employed and working poor; to pensioners and those dependent on social security, people suffering mental illness or disabilities, those is foster care, youth at risk, prisoners on remand, Indigenous persons living in impoverished conditions, refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrant workers (especially those working in the black market as 'illegal aliens'); and the victims of natural disasters – like the recent bushfires.”
“Right now, we are partnering with the Salvation Army to support those that have experienced devastation by the recent bushfires in NSW, supporting the disaster relief following the disaster recovery efforts which are being led by the Salvation Army and The Red Cross.
“Disaster recovery is focused on specialist emergency volunteers providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones. Disaster relief is focused on the distribution of supplies not deemed emergency and assistance with re-establishing normality.”
The response, says Chesler, has been overwhelming. “We have been very grateful to be inundated with clothing donations from our generous fashion partner as well as onboarding new fashion donors to support the many people impacted by the devastation.
“We have received an outpouring of inbound enquiries from volunteers to support the relief effort and we have utilised this army of volunteers to assist us to sort, pick and pack with purpose. We are also liaising with local partners on the ground to ascertain the requirements in order to ensure that the type of clothing we are able to provide best aligns to the impacted communities.”
He shared with us some stories from people who have benefitted from Thread Together’s outreach where the fires have hit the hardest…
"To lose everything – every single thing you possess – is incomprehensible,” John, a victim of the fires, told Chesler. “This has been, and continues to be, traumatic. I was left with the clothes I had on. To be able to choose my own clothes, and new clothes at that, is a tiny important part of rebuilding our lives after this disaster."
"People want to help and donations are incredibly generous, but being able to choose my own clothes, new clothes that have come straight from the industry, is such a relief,” says Cassie, also affected by the fires. “Even more so with personal items like underwear!"
Continues Chesler: “Our vision – and all that we do – is deeply rooted in restoring dignity to vulnerable people. We believe that it’s necessary to afford vulnerable people with choice through the provision of new clothing apparel and footwear. The most important thing about doing what we do? It’s providing choice which restores dignity and hope for a better future.
“Did you know that for just $5 dollars we are able to provide a full wardrobe to a person in need. A small donation makes a very big difference.”
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