It’s time for a new academic year for students and while most parents would discard the old school uniforms or pass them on to their domestic helps, two women in Pune are determined to do things differently this year. They started an experimental drive to donate school uniforms last year, under an initiative called ‘Art of Giving’, in which they encourage people to donate school uniforms to needy children, but with a difference.
“The uniforms may be old school uniforms but we don’t give them away as it is. We redesign them and turn them into something else. The idea came to us last year when my daughter was in Class I and I wanted to give away her uniform but with dignity. I asked other parents from her school and collected and redesigned 25 sets of uniforms. Despite the last minute call, many parents responded and that’s why we decided to involve more parents. In the first collection drive itself, we collected over 85 sets of uniforms this year,” explains Vaibhavi Rege, one of the founders of the initiative.
Explaining the concept further, co-founder Anjali Chuttar said the idea of refurbishing uniforms was not just to make the clothes more appealing to recipients but also to protect the sanctity of educational institutions.
“The usual trend is to pass on the uniforms to the sons and daughters of our domestic helps. We do not believe in doing this as the logo of a particular institution is on the uniform and a child who is not studying in that institute on merit or otherwise should not be using a uniform as play-wear. Also, even if a child is using it as play-wear, it clearly shows it is a hand-me down and whether underprivileged or not, all children would like to have new clothes. Hence, we thought of this drive which is not just another donation drive but one that requires us to invest our creativity and time for a cause,” said Chuttar.
What the two women do is collect uniforms from people who want to give them away along with a small fee of Rs 70 per uniform or Rs 200 for a set of three. The uniforms have to be washed, not torn and freshly pressed when handed over. With this money, the women buy some extra material and pay tailors to refurbish the clothes, making a few design changes in the uniforms and turning them into dresses. In some cases, the uniforms have also been turned into tote bags or pencil holders to be given to older children. With the first collection drive having ended, the women will now do a second round of collections of old uniforms on May 6 and 7 at Vishrambaugh Society, Senapati Bapat Road.