Donate Plus Size Clothing

Posted: August 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Just a quick post, but I wanted to talk briefly about donating clothing, and the importance of including donations in plus size clothing sizes as well.

TW: I’m going to talk briefly in the next paragraph about sexual assault and domestic violence.

I worked for 5 years across several organizations doing domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy. And one thing survivors sometimes need is clothing. I’ve worked with two domestic violence shelters which took clothing donations. One shelter partnered with other non-profits who specifically specialized in providing second hand clothing for any special or on going needs of clients, but had a small amount of clothing on site designated for emergency needs. Basically meaning we had a number of clients who came for shelter with literally nothing except the clothes on their backs. At a minimum until they could get to another organization with a voucher provided by us they need some other clothing so that they can wear one set of clothing while washing the other. I also did medical advocacy with sexual assault survivors at a hospital, working with survivors who came in for forensic exams following sexual assault. In those cases clothing is sometimes take as evidence and survivors are provided with a set of emergency clothing as well, to wear out of the hospital. 

I want to give that background for people who aren’t as familiar with what these clothing donations do. When most people think about clothing donations, we imagine the person who needs them has limited clothing, but has some clothing. A lot of people don’t realize that in many cases people need donated clothing items because they have no clothing at that time. 

And that’s why it’s so important to have every size of clothing available. The domestic violence shelter with emergency clothing I worked at typically did not have clothing over an XL, and I don’t think I ever saw anything over a size 12 in jeans. All the clothing was donated, so it was limited to what people donated. And a lot of it was actually event shirts that were donated- so there is a 5K and they have shirts for everyone who does it, and after it’s over they have shirts left over so they would donate them. And usually those only go to an XL. 

I know the clothing didn’t go up high enough because I was there when we had women who wore 2X-5X come in with nothing but the clothing on their backs, forced to leave their home with nothing in order to escape abuse, and we had no clothing that would fit their bodies. 

Obviously people who donate their old clothing are only going to be donating whatever size they wear (or wore at some previous point). But I know some people also buy clothing just to donate, especially around the holidays, and if you do that, I just want to take a minute to encourage you to think about sizing and including plus size clothing as well when you donate. 

Leaving an abusive relationship with nothing to start over in a shelter with a bunch of strangers, or being sexually assaulted and then going through the long procedure of a forensic exam, having evidence gathered from your body and having to recount the assault to nurses, doctors, and police is hard enough, it shouldn’t have to be harder or more embarrassing because one wears a nonstandard clothing size. 

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