Why spend money on children’s clothing when you can swap them for free? During the bustling Kiddush on Shabbat morning, November 7, at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Laila Goldstein handed out small slips of paper to the congregants. In them, were pictures of children’s clothing and details of the children’s clothing swap that was to happen that evening. “The goal of the clothing swap was to reduce waste and help to assist those in need. Everyone who needs children’s clothes is welcome,” read the flyers. At the bi-annual HIR clothing swap anyone can stack up family clothes for the entire year–for free!
This was the third clothing swap coordinated by Kathy Goldstein, an HIR member. The event was born out of the fact that people have so many extra clothes and children grow out of their clothing so quickly. A community clothing exchange meets the needs of everyone involved.
Beginning at seven that evening, over 60 bags’ worth of gently worn clothing were sprawled on over 18 tables in the social hall of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Clothing was sorted by gender and size and included dresses, jackets, pants and baby wear. When participants entered the social hall, they were warmly greeted by Goldstein and a group of volunteers and asked, “What sizes do you need? Go grab a bag.” The only difference here was that there was no cash register.
Some women who attended the event came to donate clothing while others came looking for specific sizes or types. Many Riverdale residents came specifically to search for winter coats to prepare for the upcoming cold weather. Others were looking for Shabbat dresses for their daughters.
In general, though the event hoped for a greater turnout, reaction from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. “I got an amazing Shabbat winter jacket...!” said one of the attendees. “I was shocked when I picked it up because I couldn’t believe how good quality it was. I’m pretty sure that in a local store it would have cost over $100. It was in great condition.”
Allison Bellin, who attended with her son Noah, said that she is inundated with clothes from her family members and is happy to have an opportunity to donate them. She had not intended to pick up clothes but she found herself leaving with a bag of some comfortable fleece pajamas.
Luba Teten said that at the event she was able to fulfill most her babywear needs. She also acquired all the pants she needed for the year for her three older children. The clothing swap is a terrific opportunity to spend less and get more, while giving to the community. Clothing that remained after the event was donated to charity.
Besides being a great opportunity to get free clothes, the evening was social too. “I wanted to coordinate a social event and give back to the community,” explained Kathy. “We hope to host another swap in the Spring.”
Goldstein’s daughter, Laila, assisted at the event and modeled some of the latest swap fashions.
Next time your closets fill up, think of saving them for the next swap. With the expense of living in New York City, children’s clothes can be one less thing to worry about. The swap is an example of a great event that is easy to do and can benefit everyone.
Adena Blickstein is a Riverdale resident and the Creative Arts Specialist at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.
By Adena Blickstein