Shed old woollens on new year, clothe the needy

December 30th, 2008 - 11:02 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Ring in this New Year differently by spreading some warmth among those braving the cold on Delhi’s roads, or a shivering family in flood hit Bihar, by joining an NGO in its endeavour to provide clothes to the needy. For those at Goonj, a Delhi-based NGO working on resource mobilization, New Year’s Eve is always spent on the capital’s roads. Bringing warmth to the scores of people spending their nights under the open skies in the biting cold, the volunteers distribute blankets and clothes.

The next day, Jan 1, while everyone is busy celebrating the New Year, Goonj’s volunteers celebrate Cloth Day.

“Our message on New Year’s Day is simple: This new year let’s bring warmth and hope to those in need by giving woollens and clothes you no longer wear,” Anshu Gupta, who heads Goonj, told IANS.

“We started the concept of Cloth Day on New Year’s Day two years back and it has been a big success. What we try to do is tell people that instead of spending so much on parties and other celebrations, if you spend just a tiny portion of it in buying and donating a piece of cloth, it will go on to clothe a needy in some corner of the country,” he said.

Working with the motto - turning one’s waste into others’ basic amenity - Goonj is a group of committed individuals, especially youngsters fresh out of college, operating in 19 states across the country.

According to Gupta the response has been increasing by the year - especially from the younger lot in schools who have been organising awareness drives to collect clothes and woollens in order to be distributed to the less fortunate.

“We are very happy with the response that we have been receiving to the Vastradaan campaign for the last one month in which we had asked people to come forth and donate their old clothes - which are in good condition - or new ones for those in need in the harsh winters,” he said.

There are an estimated 150,000 homeless people on the capital’s roads alone. Of them, 10,000 are women who are not accommodated in the handful of shelter homes, even on those bitter winter nights.

“Our need however is much more escalated this time. With the subsiding of the floods, attention has been diverted from Bihar when the truth is that the people there who are left with almost no belonging are now facing another big challenge - to live through the bitter winters.

“Therefore we need more woollens and clothes, not just for those on the streets in Delhi and other places, but also for the flood-hit in Bihar and Orissa,” Gupta said.

For those wanting to know what to donate, Gupta says there is a big demand for woollens and shoes for children.

“We desperately need more woollens for four to five year old kids. Also, we want to request people that if they want to donate blankets, be wary of the ones available at very cheap prices. Most of then are not at all warm and become limp once in contact with moisture,” he said.

To get more information about the collection centres where one can donate clothes, one can visit www.goonj.org

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