I get it. There’s a movement. A big, old, silly and easily doable movement. It’s a movement with a sense of humour, even! It’s fun.
A big, old, silly guy, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries, insulted almost everyone last week (well, he insulted you seven years ago, but you just found out about it last week.) He implied that you weren’t cool because the scale shows you three digits or because the first number in your age is not a one or a two. He said he only wanted the cool kids at his table and the truth is that even if you are/were one of the cool kids in school, there are/were probably days when you weren’t and folks picked on your hair or your clothes or your choice of boy band.
And this same jerk who said this also declared that he would rather burn clothes than dilute his brand by giving to charity. You like charity! Charity is that thing that you’re supposed to like! Oh, and his company also uses sweat shop labour, but that’s much less important and we wont talk about it, because that might lead to a discussion on our practice of bargain buying cheap clothes, regardless of the ethics behind it, and we can’t have that. That’s just depressing and this movement is FUN! Super FUN!
Was I just ranting?
Right. Enough ranting. Yesterday I wrote about what this movement implies about the homeless, including myself, so I’m not going to rehash that here. What I am going to do is break down ways this momentum, which is pretty neat, can be used for good. I’ll even include ways you can give your A&F clothes to homeless folks, because I don’t want to poop on your parade.
#fitchthehomeless, Level One
Okay, so you really dig the whole idea of grabbing your A&F clothes and giving them away to homeless people. You want to keep this as simple as possible. You just want to do what the guy in video told you to do. Here’s how to do it without being a douche.
- Step One: Sort through your clothes and pull out anything that is stained, holey, smelly or in any way icky. If it has fallen out of your wardrobe and into your Saturday or sleep-only pile, pull it out. I wont say nobody wants those clothes, but…nope, nobody wants them. Upcycle them, recycle them or use them as rags and send a picture to A&F, just don’t give them to homeless people.
- Step Two: Wash the clothes. Please don’t donate dirty clothes. Homeless people don’t know what kind of foot fungus or scabies you may have. Many shelters don’t have the facilities to wash large donations, so wash them and bag them nicely.
- Step Three: Ask. Before you hand a homeless person a piece of clothing, make sure they want it. Make sure the sizes match. Make sure they aren’t allergic to rayon. Have a conversation. Not everyone needs clothing. Clothing takes up a lot of space and is cumbersome to carry around. When I was homeless, I had three outfits I carried around, because any more would have been pointless. If you are donating to a shelter or charity, make sure they take clothing. Many don’t. Some charities have been posting that they are very willing to take your A&F clothes. Look for those guys. If they do pick-ups, get a few friends together and make a bundle to make it worth the cost and labour of coming around to your house. ASK FIRST. Inform yourself.
- Step Four: Donate and feel good about yourself.
If you are not willing to do these steps, ask yourself why you’re doing this at all. If your just doing it as a middle finger to A&F, then there are other ways to do it. Get all your normal bodied friends together and do a fashion show in front of their store. Send a letter. Post a video. Return your clothes en masse. Don’t give your clothes to the homeless unless you’re willing to do it in a way that benefits them.
#fitchthehomeless, Level Two
You’re really committed to the idea of both helping the homeless and sticking it to A&F. Heck, this has inspired you to make a difference in the lives of homeless people and, when you’re done donating your clothes, you want to keep going. What can you do to really help? Here are a few suggestions. They are from my own experiences in the group home system and as a homeless teen, so they aren’t universal and the above mentioned ASK rule still applies.
- Find out what a local group home, shelter or organization really, really needs and throw a F*ck You Fitch, We Love The Homeless party. When I was in care, what we really needed wasn’t clothes, it was consumables – things that got used up quickly with five teenaged girls in the house. Tampons. Shampoo. Soap. Detergent. Toothpaste. Those were the donations that saw the most use. Ask your local shelter what they need and have everyone at your party bring some. Have a glass of wine and toast to yourself because, hey, you did something nice. Then have your designated driver drop it all off. Make sure you know the shelter’s drop off policy because a lot of shelters have really specific security designed to keep abused clients safe from their abusers.
- Have a Fitch yard sale. Get all your friends together and hold a yard sale of all your A&F clothes. Heck, throw in all the other crap you don’t need too. Sell, sell, sell and then cut a cheque to a help-the-homeless organization. Take all your leftovers to a charity. Money lets an organization buy what they really need. It also lets them buy it in bulk or at a discount, which helps them even more. Yay you!
#fitchthehomeless, Level Awesome
You’re inspired. You want to make lasting change. This little video has motivated you to go beyond Fitching The Homeless (does that sound dirty to anyone else?) and really have an impact. What can you do?
- Volunteer. Your time is more valuable than you could possibly know. Your old t-shirt might help someone, but actually getting in there and making change? That’s amazing!
- Buy Fair Trade. If you buy fair trade, you are making sure that the clothes you buy are not made by sweatshop labour. You are making sure that workers make a living wage. A living wage means less homeless people the whole world over. Pay a bit more now and get clothes made ethically.
- Hire a homeless person. You may not realize it, but most homeless people are invisible. I don’t mean they have super powers, I mean they don’t look homeless. They kinda look just like us, only they’ve lost their job, their home or their way and they need a leg up. It can be really hard to find a job when you don’t have a phone, an address or access to the internet. It’s a problem I faced when I was homeless. A lot of organizations exist that try to help these people find jobs. When I was homeless, I used St. Stephen’s in Toronto. They gave me a voice mail box and helped me connect with employers. If you are an employer, consider contacting a place like St. Stephen’s and letting them know that you are willing to meet with their clients. A job is the best way to help a homeless person.
So there you go. A whole bunch of ways you can #fitchthehomeless without being a douche. Enjoy. Share. Give. Do good. Grab this momentum and make change.