In these times of economic austerity the idea of giving to charity is more relevant than ever. But when we give away our old clothes we seldom think about foundation, or under, garments, the most important for women of course being the bra. But a new drive is aiming to help to solve this shortage.
What started as a clothing drive to collect bras for women in Haiti has rapidly developed into a much larger undertaking in Canada and abroad. Vancouver plastic surgeon Allen Gabriel and the Southwest Medical Group Plastic Surgery office launched the Gift of Lift campaign last November. The goal was to collect 500 new or lightly used bras.
Since then they have surprised by their own success and have now collected more 2,000 bras. Local businesses and community members latched on to the effort and held their own collection drives to contribute to Gabriel’s cause. So Gabriel’s office handed the campaign off to his non-profit advocacy group, Pink Lemonade Project, which also offers educational retreats for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The non-profit formed a committee tasked with expanding the campaign beyond Haiti.
The new objective of the campaign is to provide bras to local women through homeless shelters and clothes closets. To that end, Denise Chicks, chair of the committee and a teacher, enlisted the help of some of her students and other local high-schoolers. The teens have been charged with inspecting, laundering and packaging all of the bras.
Each packaged bra includes a card reminding women to perform monthly breast exams and schedule regular mammograms. The card also includes information about where uninsured women can receive mammograms.
The committee also enlisted the help of Waste Connections, which earlier this year developed pink recycle bins as a fundraiser for the Pink Lemonade Project. The company produced a handful of mini recycle bins with the words “bra collection” etched in white lettering.
The nonprofit is also reaching out to various shelters and women’s organizations and is accepting requests from groups that would like to provide women with bras. Chicks hopes the gift of bras will help women in shelters feel more confident, especially as some of them search for jobs.
“Lots of people do clothes drives, but rarely in those do people think of the undergarments,” Chicks said. “For a woman, even for her health, to have a good bra and that support is important.”