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A Tip to Remember for your Winter Clothing Drives

A Tip to Remember for your Winter Clothing Drives December 1, 2021

 

A lot of you are probably taking part in clothing drives this time of year. This is good; a lot of people need help in the winter getting warm, dignified clothing to wear. We should all be helping in any way we can. People need warm coats, sweatshirts and jackets, gloves and hats and socks, and they ought to be the best quality we can provide. I think most people who participate in clothing drives realize that or we wouldn’t be doing it.

Now, here’s something you might not know: hardly anybody donates plus sized clothing.

I didn’t realize how bad this was until recently. A social worker friend mentioned that awhile ago, one of the people she was helping came to her in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter. They didn’t have any warm clothes to wear and they didn’t have a coat. This person was a size 4x, and plus size clothes are expensive, and they’re sometimes not available at the dollar stores that people can walk to in poor neighborhoods. My friend called every thrift store and agency in town and they had nothing; she ended up driving all the way up to Wal Mart on the far side of town to buy clothes for them.

I remembered how much trouble I’d had getting clothes at the thrift store when I was poor and also in plus sizes due to my undiagnosed poly-cystic ovary syndrome. There weren’t a lot of choices for anyone, but the plus size section was especially small and picked over.  Lately, due to my PCOS being in treatment, I’m down into straight sizes and immediately found it way easier to shop. And I was always on the smaller end of the plus sizes, so I was lucky. People on the larger end often can’t find a thing. And that’s at the thrift store. If you go to a store in a poor neighborhood that sells cheap clothing, such as a Dollar General, they usually don’t carry extended sizes at all. If you can manage to get to a nicer store that does carry plus sizes, they’re often more expensive.

When you talk about plus-size clothing, somebody always chimes in in a cruel judgmental way that those people ought to just change their lifestyle to lose weight. So I want to remind my readers that you cannot possibly guess someone’s lifestyle based on their size. I’ve shared my story about struggling with an invisible illness that jacked up my weight even when I was on strict diets and exercising all the time. This happens to far more people than you think. And poverty makes all the obstacles you can imagine to losing weight even harder: it’s harder to buy health food when you’re low income and might live in a food desert. It’s hard to meal plan when you work three jobs. It’s hard to work out when you live in a small apartment in a dangerous neighborhood and you’re never at home because you have to work. A lot of poor people are disabled or have chronic medical conditions, which is how they got to be poor in the first place. And besides all of that, it just isn’t any of our business. Being fat isn’t a vice and everyone deserves to have clothes to wear.

So if you’re gathering clothes for a donation drive this winter, please remember to pick up some coats and winter clothes in the higher plus sizes. Make it the nicest clothes you can afford, things you wouldn’t be ashamed to wear if somebody gave them to you.

Everyone deserves to be able to keep warm and look dignified. Let’s make sure that nobody in need is left out this winter.

 

image via pixabay 

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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