Pop Up Clothing Swaps Flourish During a Pandemic
Throughout COVID 19, we all witnessed unprecedented events. Empty shelves at supermarkets, the stocking up of toilet paper. Caroline Chisholm society was concerned about our vulnerable members of society and reacted quickly to ensure we had supplies to help our families. We were generously supported by Essendon Salvation Army with boxes of food for us to distribute. Each time I collected the boxes, I was greeted by the cheerful Army officer Erin. Despite the tough times we were all juggling, and work on the front line, Erin was always smiling and would help me load the van with more supplies. This proved to be very valuable for us through a difficult time and positive thing that came from the pandemic was the collaboration with another organisation.
At Essendon Salvation Army Church, on Mt Alexander Road they were also about to open the “Doorways” program. Seemed like perfect timing to ask Erin if she thought our outreach program may also work alongside them providing a complimentary service. This means that families doing it COVID tough may be able to receive support at a one-stop location. Doorways is the welfare branch of the Salvation Army, providing emergency relief, food, and case management. Andrea and Dipti are there every week running the program, always friendly and with the impressive capacity to speak Nepali, Hindi, Spanish or Portuguese when required. Their fridge is stocked with fresh food and their pantry shelves have a large selection of different foods.
Caroline Chisholm offers material aid for babies and children up to age six. Parents who need clothes or shoes for their children can book a time by calling our office and then come along to the church. The clothing which has been packed by our team of staff and volunteers is carefully selected to ensure the child has clothes suitable for both cool and warm weather. Additionally, there is always a practitioner available for added support if the parent has further support needs with their child/ children or unborn child.
Since December, 2020, this program has been going from strength to strength and we are seeing the need continue to grow. New people come each week and both services are on offer for those who need it. Some come for clothes, some come for food. Often, they are grateful to receive both.
Rebecca (Community Engagement Officer, Caroline Chisholm Society)