At Periyapodhu village in Anamalai taluk in Coimbatore district, as many as 342 people, including 61 children, picked 690 pieces of clothing last Saturday and Sunday. About 2,000 pieces of clothing, including dhotis, saris, and T-shirts, were pressed, folded and kept on racks or displayed on hanger at a “pre-owned garments” outlet and the clothing were given away free of cost to those who walked in.
M. Ganesh, Founder Managing Trustee of Helping Hearts, a voluntary organisation, said the initiative was started in 2019 and 53 camps (temporary outlets) were held across the district that year. Used clothing that are in good condition are collected and checked by volunteers before these are packed for distribution. With the support of local officials, temporary outlets are set up in villages and the garments are displayed on hangers or shelves. If there is space, trial rooms are also set up.
“The aim is to make the needy people get a shopping experience. They are told that these are used garments and they can choose and pick the dresses that they want. It is given away free of cost and each person can choose two dresses,” said Mr. Ganesh. The temporary outlets were not set up for three years due to COVID-19 and resumed this year.
For each camp, about 2,000 dresses are kept ready. The temporary outlets are open on Saturday and Sunday in a village from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Most of the outlets are set up at community halls or marriage halls in a village. For three months, the focus will be on Anamalai taluk where the stalls will be set up in 13 villages on weekends. This week, it will be held at Athupollachi. Most of the visitors last week were daily wage earners, conservancy workers or senior citizens, he said.
They can take a garment home, try it on, and if they want exchange it too, he added.
Each camp is managed by six volunteers, including four students from Dr. Mahalingam College of Engineering and Technology. The logistics partner is Truck Taxi. Helping Hearts will streamline collection programmes in the coming days, he said.