In early December 2021, I volunteered at the St Kilda Mums warehouse in Clayton for the first time. After being inducted by Greg in the Operations team and given a tour, I was put to work sorting donations of pre-loved clothing under the guiding eye of Joy, a long term volunteer.
The sorting and editing process follows a method embedded in St Kilda Mums’ values of dignity, respect and sustainability. Donations are sorted into 3 areas:
1. Keep and allocate: Suitable donations are filed by age and gender, ready for bundling.
2. Reject and allocate to Op Shops: Many St Kilda Mums clients are refugees from diverse religious and cultural background or survivors of abuse, so some items may be deemed unsuitable due to potential cultural insensitivities or triggers. This could be things like weapons, camouflage print, references to fathers and mothers, and references to specific religious occasions like Christmas and Easter. These items can potentially be sold at an Op Shop if they’re still be in good condition.
3. Dispose to a textile re-cycling service: These items are soiled, stained, have holes, broken zips or missing buttons and cannot be re-homed. This is the largest category that we came across while sorting donations. Many of us will have donated clothing to the Salvos, St Vinnies, Red Cross and other charities thinking it can be passed on, but unfortunately often they can’t. When deciding to send clothes to St Kilda Mums or an Op Shop, ask yourself if you would you hand this onto a close friend, or family members’ child? If not, the item shouldn’t be donated and you’re probably much better off utilising a textile service like Upparel.
After sorting, I moved onto bundling clothes for 1-2 year old boys. Each bundle is carefully selected with an assortment of clothing, shoes, hats, underwear, pyjamas and sleepwear. Pride in the presentation of these bundles is paramount, as each bundle is treated as a gift to the children. Volunteers prepare bundles for boys and girls from premature babies to 16 year olds.
Which values are at the heart of the St Kilda Mums organisation? We value dignity, respect and opportunity for children and their families. Which items do you find to be most important to parents and families? Donations of essential equipment are so important. A pram or car seat will empower mothers and families by allowing for safe mobility and independence.
How did the 2021 lockdowns and restrictions impact St Kilda Mums? The warehouse was closed to volunteers, meaning it was small team of permanent staff who were sorting the donations that were filtering through. Regular call outs for key donations meant that daily courier and AusPost deliveries from corporations and individual donors were able to be distributed to the St Kilda Mums community thanks to the hard work of our small team.
How can people help St Kilda Mums?
Both physical donations and cash donations are so important to our organisation. If you can’t donate items, cash donations help us fill gaps in areas that are in constant demand, like toiletries and nappies and older boys clothing (just to name a few) to ensure that families are not without these essentials.
At the time of writing this, I’m thrilled to confirm thanks to our community we have donated $1,600 to St Kilda Mums Christmas appeal, which further adds to the $2,250 we have donated in the last 12 months. St Kilda Mums is a vibrant warehouse filled with individuals contributing to improving the circumstances of children and their families. During my time I was able to see prams and car seats being cleaned and safety checked. Goods being received by individual donors and corporations. Cots being refurbished. Toys, books and linen being sorted and bundled. And most importantly, these goods are being collected by social workers and Child and Maternal health services and delivered to their clients. I’m now inducted as St Kilda Mums volunteer and will be back in the new year for more sessions. Maybe I’ll see you there? If you missed out on purchasing a raffle ticket for our fundraiser, you can read about and donate to St Kilda Mums here.