A one of a kind 'clothes bank' is spreading the message of kindness and dignity. Situated in Bengaluru's Electronic City, the 'Imagine Clothes Bank' was launched in the city recently, for the underprivileged to come and buy clothes they need. All the items in this 'shop' costs just ₹1 and gives the customers an opportunity to choose whatever they want.
This initiative is the brainchild of four college friends who come from Mangaluru. They started an NGO called 'The Imagine Trust, which they juggled with their corporate jobs. With one of the friends, Melisha Noronha joining the NGO full-time, they have been able to take on bigger projects. And after this, there was no looking back.
Finding Purpose In A Meaningful Cause
One of the founders named Melisha Noronha told The Logical Indian about how it all started. While in college, Nitin and Vinod ran a clothes bank for two years In Mangaluru. This initiative was a great success as many less-fortunate people were able to benefit from this. When they moved to Bengaluru, they had to put a pause to this. However, the idea was still in their minds and they looked for the perfect opportunity to begin the second innings.
Come COVID-19, it was the best time to restart this. "My husband and I really felt that it was our calling. We had not been affected by the COVID situation at all. We just felt that it was time for us to find our purpose, something more meaningful," Melisha Noronha said. The clothes bank started in Bengaluru on September 12 in a two-room house near Electronic City. Along with her, the group consists of her husband, Vinod Prem Lobo, her mother Gladys Noronha and friends Nitin Kumar and Vignesh.
How Does The Clothes Bank Work?
Quite often, people tend to buy excess clothing items that they may not need in the future. Eventually, these are discarded. In this process, we do not think about those who are less fortunate and do not have enough clothes to keep themselves warm.
What this bank aims to do is to give the poor the dignity and right to choose whatever they want from there. Noronha explains, "There needs to be a place where people can come in and take the clothes with dignity. They should have various options to choose from. A lot of times when the poor gets clothes, it is not something they want, it is something that is already discarded. That's where the Imagine Trust bridges the gap."
The clothes bank is open for the needy on every Sunday offering clothes for all age groups.
Each piece costs ₹1. The reason behind this was to uphold the buyer's dignity and not make it feel like a 'free charity' that could make them uncomfortable. The money from this is then used by the group to fulfil a needy family's educational and medical needs.
The shop consists of all kinds of clothes. Along with this, bedsheets, towels and curtains are also in demand. Noronha says, "Earlier, we never paid attention towards collecting curtains in the drive, because it is mostly used by us as a decorative piece. Then, when people started picking curtains from the clothes bank, we realised that in a poor household, a curtain could mean so much."
All of the items are donated by the people. "We have identified volunteers from the nearby apartment complexes that do collection drives. Based on the guidelines given by us, they do the needful and send it across to us," she adds. The drive goes on for the entire year. Initially, it was a small group, the donations are now coming in from different parts of the city. Not only that, people outside the country are interested in the cause as well.
Today, the bank caters to over 150 families a week. It has achieved a lot of success recently. Now, it is working towards opening a toys bank for poor children in the coming few weeks.