An interview with co-founder of Clothes Box Foundation: Initiative that is taking the social media by storm
I am sure you would find many clothes in your cupboard, which is a little tight, or slightly frayed in the seams or has gone out of style. Clothes, which are in perfect condition, but by just a missing button you may no longer wear it. If you have such clothes and it is eating up all the space in your cupboard, then your destination is Clothes Box Foundation.
Started by Naman Aluwalia and Saajan Arol this initiative not only shares clothes, but also shares and spreads smiles. Both Ahluwalia and Arol studied together since eight grade in the Heritage School of Gurgaon and has been buddies since then. Their friendship took another step when they decided to give back to the community by starting their own programme called the Clothes Box Foundation.
22 year old Naman, who is pursuing his Engineers degree and 23 year old Saajan, who works in a prestigious company started the initiative this February. They have already garnered eyeballs as well as volunteers across the globe in UK, US, Canada as well as in the major Indian cities.
In a lively conversation with Naman Ahluwalia, we got to know more of the initiative and how it is touching people's lives and adding a smile on many people's face with clothes, which most of us throw away or discard.
Q: They say charity begins at home. Was it the same for you? Why did you start Clothes Box Foundation?
A: Yes, it began from home, as we used to donate clothes, but slowly realised that there is a gap. There was no transparency as to what happened to the clothes we donated. We wanted to fill in the gap by taking pictures of people who receives the donation and adding them to our Facebook page.
We wanted to give back to the community and this seemed like a good idea, Also, we used to see clothes lying around in our home, which we did not use. So, we thought that we would give these clothes to people, who needs them and would utilise them. This is how Clothes Box Foundation (CBF) happened.
Q:Till date, from its inception in February, how many people have contributed to the cause? Is social media helping the process?
Around 100-150 people have already made donations and we have helped around 2500 people. The social media has helped the initiative a lot. Through it, we have expanded as people have started noticing us and we have got volunteers all around the world through social media, people who saw us on Facebook and joined in as volunteers across the globe.
Q:If a person wants to donate to CBF, how would they go about it? What is the process, you guys have put in place after you get the donations. Who gets the donated clothes?
If a person wants to donate, they can visit our Facebook page, of the same name and call one of the co-founders. We would then co-ordinate and tell them to drop it off somewhere or we can pick it up ourselves.
In Hyderabad and Delhi, we have our logistic partner called Superman Delivers, who delivers the packages to us and we take care of them thereafter. Once the donation reaches us, we segregate them into men and women's clothes. We do all these works during the week. On weekends, we visit various construction sites and distribute the clothes and then take pictures of the people receiving the clothes and tag the donor with the pictures on our Facebook page.
Q: Can you tell us one incident, which CBF has given you and which has stayed with you and has become memorable.
We once visited a school in Gurgaon. There were around 180-200 children, who were not financially well off and distributed clothes. There was a kid called Haider, who was specially abled, but he loved dancing. He was selected in the Boggie Woggie show, but had no money to pay a professional and learn further. We provided him with the dance lessons. This one incident often comes to my mind.
Q: Being a citizen of Gurgaon, do you think Gurgaonites are charitable by nature?
People in Gurgaon are educated and sensitive to various social issues around them. They take interest and are willing to contribute to a social cause. Many people have come forward with us in order to experience the work that we are doing with Clothes Box Foundation. So, yes, I feel Gurgaon people are sensitive and charitable.
Q: Five years from now, where do we see CBF to be?
We wish to be present in every Indian city and abroad as well. We also want to promote special talent, who are from the financially weaker section of the society.
we are helping Jammu and Kashmir flood survivors. We have collected
600-700 blankets and plan to arrange for 1000 blankets and send it to
the survivors through Indian Army and NDTV volunteers.