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In photo: Teacher Nadia Di Livio, Grade 11 student Caden, and Grade 12 student Carsyn begin the job of sorting through donations for GELA’s annual Clothing Swap and Giveaway event. Photo from Grand Erie Communications.

GELA’s Clothing Swap and Giveaway Celebrates Spirit of Generosity

Many have applied the popular KonMari decluttering method to their homes and closets, and the result is lots of items which no longer “spark joy.” So what to do with all the gently used clothing, shoes, books, and small household items that could very well spark joy for someone else? Grand Erie Learning Alternatives (GELA) has the answer.

“The Clothing Swap at GELA was originally started by the school’s EcoClub as a way to repurpose clothing and other items we’re no longer using and pass them along to someone who can use them,” says Nadia Di Livio, hospitality program teacher at GELA who is helping coordinate this year’s event. “It’s a whole-school effort, and the students’ spirit of generosity and willingness to help has been amazing.”

The Clothing Swap transforms the gymnasium into a well organized second-hand shop where community members and school families can peruse hundreds of items and take home whatever they could use. Visitors can bring their own items they’re ready to part with and swap them for something else, but it’s not required. The annual Swap has become a signature event, with staff beginning to collect donations as early as September each year and lots of community support around it which generates donations.

“It’s a real eye-opener when you see the steady stream of people visiting throughout the day,” says Di Livio, noting that the sudden arrival of cold weather this year has many scrambling to outfit their families in winter clothing and accessories. “There’s a huge need in our wider school community.”

While promoting the event and collecting donated items is a long-haul effort, the heavy lifting begins the week of the Swap when dozens of students dedicate their time to sorting, categorizing, and displaying hundreds of items. Any item not suitable to offer is passed on to textile recycling programs, and anything not scooped up during the event is donated to charities in the city, ensuring the Clothing Swap is as friendly to the planet as it is to the community.

GELA’s efforts hosting the Swap each year are echoed in Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan which aims to foster and celebrate inclusive school communities that enhance the experiences of students through its Community pillar, as well as promoting enabling environments that recognize the well-being of mind, body, emotion, and spirit through the Well-Being indicator.

If any Grand Erie staff, students, families or community member would like to donate gently used clothing, accessories, or household items to the Swap, donations will be accepted until the day of the event.

GELA Clothing Swap and Giveaway

Date: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Location: 365 Rawdon St., Brantford

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