Why You Shouldn’t Send Clothes

Many people don’t remember the flood Nashville, TN experienced in May 2010.  For me, it triggered horrific flashbacks to my work in New Orleans with YOAM.  My beloved city was literally underwater.

Nashville banded together and recovered fairly quickly, though the storm did more than $2 billion in damage, according to some reports.  But to this day, the city still bears the scars of this flood in watermarks and businesses that never returned.

Having experience in relief efforts in the past, I immediately jumped into action, organizing a donation center, and going on the radio every night to broadcast where needs were and supplies could be found.  In running the donation center, what I found most overwhelming was the amount of JUNK (I said it and I won’t apologize for it) we had donated.  Let me give you a bullet-point list of some things that stood out to me:

  • Size 30 pants with one leg removed
  • Stained underwear
  • Sequined evening dress
  • Parkas
  • Half-used peanut butter
  • Butterfly costume

In comparison, here is what we’d asked for:

  • Water
  • Jeans
  • Clean T-shirts
  • New socks and underwear
  • Money to buy new furniture for flooded homes

A quick Google search will confirm for you what I’m about to say:  After a disaster, PLEASE DON’T SEND CLOTHES.  Most of them are not helpful and end up creating a second disaster as stricken areas try to figure out what to do with the influx of clothes, which become trash.  In some cases, it can even block actual support from getting to the places most in need.

So what can you do instead?  Send funds.  Let me repeat: SEND FUNDS.  If you’re skilled in relief efforts, hand deliver the funds (once you’ve been invited) and get to work while you’re there.

The Florida Keys will be open to repairs starting in 2018.  I’m finding many people didn’t know that.  YOAM will be there.  On the front line, delivering the funds and starting ohusing repair.  We need your help to do it.  Donate financially here.  Drop us a line to donate your time.

Love and Peace,


*The featured image is of clothing donated after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami at Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

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