Monday, July 7, 2008

Clothes Gemach

There was a series of letters in the Yated about donating clothes. One person wrote a whole long letter on how the clothing gemach works; that they go through all the clothes and they throw out everything with stains and everything which is outdated. Another lady wrote that she hates throwing out perfectly good clothes. She said that something outdated here may not be outdated in Israel. So she asked if she should donate the clothes to the gemachs for the reason that it can be sent to Israel. Someone responded the following:

Dear Editor,

This is in regard to the issue of giving clothing for tzedakeh.

To the lady who asked whether she should give "outdated clothes that are in good condition which her children won't wear," I would say absolutely not. As a matter for principle, anything that I wouldn't give my child, I wouldn't give to someone else's child either.

Clothes that are in good condition, but are not suitable for your children because they outgrew them- either size-wise or age-wise- can be given to others, in my opinion. But clothes that are outdated for your children (for any reason whatsoever), you can throw away.

A Reader

This letter really made me freak out for two reasons:

1) Beggars can't be choosers. Especially nowadays with the drop in the dollar and the rising prices of just about everything. If you're poor enough to need (not talking about people who choose to have) second-hand clothing you sure as hell shouldn't complain about the fact it's outdated.

When I was in Israel a few years ago I saw a lady in the supermarket (twice- we stayed at one hotel for about 4 days) wearing my HS uniform skirt (both times). There is no way in hell that skirt ever was or every will be in style (if the pattern ever is, def not in the length she was wearing it). She obviously either really needed the skirt, or Israel has a different style. I'm going with needed, simply because that really was one really ugly skirt. Either way, she has it, and she wore it. Using that letter writers logic, that uniform skirt should not have been donated, rather trashed. I hate that.

2) What bothers me, is the idea that frum people think there is a possibility for them to have "outdated" clothing. I've been frum for about 8 years. I still have some clothes that I could totally wear and would totally fit in. Why? Because there is no style. frum people wear the same thing ALL the time. Black skirt, blouse and/or knitted sweater. For a fancy occasion? Ugly black suit (makes them look like men) and/or a pleated black skirt with an atrocious shiny blouse. ALL blouses must be about 3 sizes too big (Gd forbid men see you have a waistline) and skirts end at mid-calf length.

A few months ago I was invited to a ger chassid wedding (one of my super frummy friends). I was going nuts "what should I wear" then I remembered I had a suit in my closet that I wore in 9th grade (about 7 yrs ago) to a super frummy Bar Mitzvah. It was an ordinary plain black suit. I wore a hot pink shell underneath and light pink, pearl earrings. Two people I know said how amazing I looked... I looked plain. I could dress up sooo much better than that, with actual nice clothes. But I wore something FIVE years old, and still managed to fit into the frum community...somehow.

So I ask you. How could clothes go outdated? I mean, we're talking abou the Yated here. The people that read this newspaper are Lakewood/Monsey/BP/Williamsburg. They don't do style. They have, and will continue to always look the same. Why not just already donate the clothes?


frum single female said...

im with you. beggars cant be choosers as far as donated clothing goes. anyway, the organization can take the clothing and the needy can decide on their own if they want it.
of course since these groups are always so picky i usually donate to housing works or angel street thrift shop who will take anything i give them.

frustrated frummie said...

how many times do pple often go into stores, buy an outfit on sale that was in style that day, to only find out that it is simply out of style and further more, why do they care about what the style is, most people will only wear outfits that they find in style rather than other people. anyway all i know is that my family donates all our clothes that are no longer good for anyone for our family and send them to a gemach!!!

frumskeptic said...

ff: I think you should rethink the gemachs. Do what FSF does. Donate to people that wouldn't throw the stuff out.

abandoning eden said...

I don't think they meant "outdated" as in 5 years ago, I think they meant "outdated" as in 25 years ago. And you should give stained clothes to poor people? I think that's more of a problem...most of the thrift stores around here won't accept stained clothes. How is stained clothes going to help them? So they can look totally unprofessional and never get a job? That's useful...oh wait.

frumskeptic said...

ae: I didn't mean stained clothes. I meant the "outdated" clothes. Someone may just want them if they look ok.

My mom kept a few of her outfits from the 80's and my sister and I wear them. They're totally in style now. ANd the shoes ARE instyle. I've worn them a couple of times, and nowadays the same shoes would be atleast like $80 (and Im referring to the cheap ones).

Ofcourse thats cuz the 80's are basically back. But generally, there are plenty of people that wouldn't mind havin their own style. There are many individuals out there.

Not only that, but I guess I shoulda added other letters, the mom's were discussing how their older daughters wouldn't allow the younger ones to wear the hand-me-down dresses. Why? B/c they were out of style. Apparently little girls these days were sophisticated looking dresses even at ages as young as 2!

Thats ridiculous. She can wear a poofy dress. NO one is gonna say "OMG the 2 yr old is out of style" and the moms throw those dresses out!!!

frumskeptic said...

wore*** sophisticated dresses

Jessica said...

What astounds me about the article is just how shallow these people are. G-d forbid someone wears something "outdated"! They'll be the laughing stock of the whole community! Pathetic...

frumpunk said...

That pisses me off. I grew up poor on thrift store clothes and every so often the gemach would give us a big black bag full of old clothes that we would divide between what would fit whom.

People who need this stuff dont give a crap about style. Maybe womens clothes are different, but mens styles dont change that much. Those shirts and pants could have been last year or 10 years ago. I never looked like I was wearing something antique, though it was a little embaressing to see your classmates name in your shirt and you hoped he wouldnt notice it.

As long as its not stained or torn, someone will want it.

Moshe said...

For toddlers and infants, there is no style. For older kids, maybe, because of kids in school and because unlike adults they can't really tell their peers to f off. For guys, white shirts are always white shirts and suits are all same. I wear jeans, shorts, and t-shirts and the t-shirts go back at least 5 years, I just buy a couple new every year and throw oldest out.

qt314 said...

I donate all my family's nonstained clothing to a local gemach - what I feel is out of style someone else may love.

I've gone shopping in higher end stores and seen clothes that *I* thought were hideous and would never wear but someon else bought and liked the same $200 Shirt.

Everyone has their own personal style - weather it's following the masses, marching to your own drumbeat, or thrift store 'vintage' clothing
If it's clean donate it!

People who need to get their clothing from gemachs appreciate that the service is there - better to be 'out of fashion' than wearing the same outfit every day!!

The Babysitter said...

Your right that beggars can't be choosers, but on the side of the one who is donating, I would say it would be nice to give over stuff that you think are good, not stuff you would be embarrassed to be seen in. Although clothes don't seem to have style in the frum world, there still is some stuff which I would say is not nice to give away.

It's like if a mother has a baby and other people make a supper for her family, even though they're being kind, if they decide to make something for her, it should be something good, not something that she wouldn't give for supper to her own kids.

Anonymous said...

You can call me a fashionista. I love clothes and I donate them too. I donate them when they are too small or I am bored with them. I believe that style matters less than the quality (how well it was worn) and I won't donate something well-worn. But there is another great reason for donating what you cannot give to your friend/child: someone may take it and remake it. I do that sometimes. I sew and I can make a new outfit out of an old one. Plus people have different tastes. what you may not like, someone else will loooove. And dont forget: fashion comes back. When I was 17, I pulled out some of my mom's clothes from before she had kids and they were very trendy then.

Anonymous said...

Gemach is a wonderful act. It stand for Gemilut CHsaadim. Which means an act of kindness. I was taken back by the way people choose the words to type their posts. First of all you Do Not call people poor. That is just disgusting.The world has its ups and downs. A person in need today may become a millioner by tomorrow. You do not catagorize people by their wealth.Second you should not speak derogatory about jewish people and their sence of style when they are keeping modesty because that is what Hashem wants of them. I suppose the pervert who comes up with what women should be dressing like is a sophisticated person!!! Thirdly you should give gemach clothing that is outgrown or your kid no longer likes which is decent looking.

Anonymous said...

What does style or stained have to do with it? Other than narrow stupid thinking.

What if someone is poor and works as a house painter? Getting old stained clothes from a Gemach is perfect.

What if a young girl from a poor family is trying to identify herself as unique? Getting something "new" from the Gemach is only going to make her feel her poorness. But, getting a really nice outfit from the 60's, 70's or 80's could make a really funky statement.

As my mother would say "one man's gold is another man's garbage".

If it can be used for something it's baal tashlich to throw it.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunatly, I now have a very hard time dressing my kids. I always gave away only beautiful stuff & I had lots of brand names.. Now the shoe is on the other foot & I feel like a total shnorrah it's humiliating
& my kids are in their teens I feel that people that don't have money deserve Kavod too. I hope chas vsholom I don't have to be embaressed by my situation I will Daven for pple in this situation. Even though it's just clothes it really affects how we feel and how people see others.