Support Charity…By Wearing Clothes!

By Tamara Jane

Think you can’t afford to give to charities? Well, can I ask a personal question? How much did you pay for your shoes? And how about your favorite T-shirt? If you bought them retail, chances are you can afford to give to charity and it will cost no more than you’re already paying for clothes and shoes.

Next time you have a need (or desire, as is usually the case) for new clothes or shoes, how about making a purchase from one of the growing number of social entrepreneurs who have committed to doing good deeds with their profits. Below are five such organizations, and if you don’t find what you need with these companies, searching the Internet will likely till up other options. I’ve supported some of these myself and they’re a great witnessing tool. I’ve been stopped several times, and questioned about what I’m wearing and what it means.

But before you ask, here’s the answer to the question that will eventually occur to you: Why don’t I skip the clothing purchase and donate directly to a charity? The answer comes from the Web site of Groobs, a shoe company that donates $6 to $9 (which is 50% of its profits) to charity for each pair of shoes sold. Groob Founder Jason Fry says, “Do it. Make a difference in someone’s life. Volunteer, give money but why not get your GROOB ON and make an impact in a person’s life too?”

Groobs shoes are no Payless variety, costing considerably more than bargain shoes, and Tom’s shoes cost considerably more than Groobs (see below). But consider this: If you buy bargain shoes, you get what you pay for and you probably do not go out and make a donation to charity in the same amount as you spent on shoes. But if you buy Toms or Groobs, you get a premium pair of shoes and a comparable premium pair of shoes is donated to a person who may actually be in desperate need of a pair of shoes. I’m not talking need like we talk need, like my-sneakers-have-a-hole-in-them need. I’m talking need like has-no-shoes-at-all need.

If you’re already giving a tithe and offerings and living on a tight budget, best stick to bargain shoes and clothes. However, if you’ve been skimping on charity or you regularly pay $50 for a pair of shoes and $20 for t-shirts, best try to redeem those purchases by making them part of the global poverty “solution,” because at present, they are part of the global poverty problem. “Solution” is in quotes because I’m not so naïve as to think that we can rid the world of poverty. In fact, it’s not scriptural. Jesus said the poor will always be with us. Yet we are commanded and advised over and over in scripture to be kind to the poor and give to the poor. So if you’ve ever wondered how to go about doing that, you’ll be ecstatic to know that it’s as easy as going shopping through some of the companies listed below.

TWLOHA (to write love on her arms)
With a motto, “Rescue is possible,” TWLOHA raises awareness about people who are hurting and in need of love and support, and have expressed this need through depression, suicide, eating disorders, cutting, burning, other self-mutilation or just by being insecure. From their online store, buy hoodies, T-shirts, tanktops, wristbands and more that sport a message to let hurting people know you care. Proceeds support TWLOHA’s mission.

We Are Overlooked
Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the purchase of clothes and jewelry sold on this site support, whose mission is to provide relief, support and hope for a promising future to refugees in Africa. I have bought one of their t-shirts that says, “This shirt feeds starving children,” on the front, and on the back it explains, “Each shirt sold provides one child with a meal a day for a month.” This shirt is the traffic stopper. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stopped and asked what my shirt is about. It’s a great opportunity to raise awareness of a good cause.

Toms Shoes
Toms makes comfortable, cute yet simple shoes and for every pair that is purchased one pair goes to a child who needs a pair of shoes. “One for one.” Recently, Toms reached a milestone in that they have given away one million pairs of shoes. Toms sponsors “one day without shoes” each year on April 5th – another great conversation starter. (Especially with the boss!) If you can’t go barefoot in your school or workplace, buy a pair of Toms and wear them on that day! Toms is also a great choice if you don’t shop online. They are carried by shoe stores all over. Find one near you.

Invisible Children (IC) You can purchase T-shirts, tanktops, messenger bags… and why? To help raise awareness of and end the longest running war in Africa. Invisible Children uses films, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in rebel warfare and restore Northern Uganda to peace and prosperity. And this selling clothes thing is working for them as well. On May 24, 2010, Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Ben Keesey of IC joined President Obama in the Oval Office as he signed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act – proof your contributions make a difference.

Even if you’re a strict thrift store shopper (and good for you and the world if you are), you can still get involved with these charities if in no other way than by browsing their sites, becoming familiar with the causes, telling others (in conversation, as well as through social media), making a direct donation, participating in one of their awareness efforts and best of all, praying for their causes.

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