On Saturday, we spent our day in the warehouse discussing and re-jigging our sorting system to make it more effective, efficient and to bring it in line with a few other changes.
I thought I'd post details of our new system here not only for those who come in to volunteer but also so the groups who collect donations and bring in to us know what happens to them as and when we sort!
Firstly, a little plea! If you are bringing food, toiletries, nappies or other non fabric items etc in, we'd really appreciate it if these could be packed separately and set to one side so these can be sorted straight away. This is especially important with food.
We discussed the importance of sorting through clothes donations slowly and carefully to check for quality, including that there was no damage, buttons missing, zips not working and pockets empty of any rubbish (or the odd fiver!). We have a separate laundry bin for dirty items that kind volunteers take home to wash, a repair bin for any small repairs on otherwise perfectly good clothes and a rag bag for clothes beyond repair. These will be used on Wednesday by Lesley and Green Days to salvage buttons, ribbons and any other serviceable components from.
At present, we predominantly send out to Syria and its important to bear the cultural implications of that in mind whilst sorting. We discussed that we would not send any t-shirts etc with any unsuitable words or pictures on and it would be best not to send camouflage items. We also thought that using common sense when it came to sizes was better than going by label as during colder months, clothes will be worn in many layers and so can be slightly larger to accommodate.
As above, we discussed it is important to keep ladies clothing appropriate but we also talked about clothes being used as layers or worn under traditional robes and so we could send more choice than perhaps we did before. We also talked again about size and that sending larger items was needed especially for people wearing layers or in pregnancy.
We have dressed a mannequin to show how a Muslim lady can dress modestly but using different layers.
Second hand, good condition bras can be sent but only new underwear.
We decided that apart from used pants and socks, all children's wear can be used in some way. Again, we talked about keeping things culturally appropriate and also practical and comfortable so items with skulls on or certain scenes can be put to one side for re-sell. Items such as dresses, skirts, fancier or smarter wear and those with higher end labels can also be put aside for re-sell as we are able to raise a good amount of funds through these and still send a large amount of children's clothes in our shipments.
We also talked about checking collars and cuffs for stains as these sometimes get missed!
We are also sorting school uniform separately so that we can hopefully start a project to provide some assistance to local families. This includes children's back packs.
We can still put children's coats, hats, scarves and gloves in a separate area. Along with small teddies, pocket tissues and packets of dried fruit.
At present, we are packing for the colder temperatures and so lighter weight, summery clothes are being stored, ready to be resorted into the spring. This will allow us to source different places for us whether it be Syria, Greece, Africa or all and more.
Shoes will need to be checked over carefully to make sure they are in good order and condition and in pairs. They also need to be practical. Summer shoes are being stored to resort in the spring.
We also will keep good quality used socks to go into shoes.
Unsuitable clothes and Shoes:
Aside from children's clothes that are unsuitable, all items that really can't be sent i.e. party dresses, very skimpy tops, high heeled shoes, tshirts with inappropriate slogans on can be stored for jumble which we will hope to sell at RAFT events on a regular basis to raise funds. Unsuitable children's clothes can be stored separately for re-sell.
Lesley has created a recycling bay which is clearly set out for certain items to be stored in which will become part of RAFTs re-use projects including fabrics for the cloth sanitary pads. Items that we can't otherwise send such as dressing gowns can be stored here but if sorting, it's important to firstly look to see which items can be sorted into this area.
Bed linen can be checked and folded and stored in the marked areas. Duvet covers can be used to cover clean unmarked duvets as soon as they come in.
Blankets can be rolled and tied with the fabric strips and stored.
Bric a Brac:
This can be packed and stored away ready for jumble sales, but we thought it was a good idea to store toys and childrens items separately as we often do child orientated sales other than at RAFT events.
*We do not necessarily ask for items of bric a brac as we are limited on storage but are accepting that we will always receive bric a brac items in with donations.
We have separate areas for Cashmere items as we can re-sell these.
Any special items of clothing can be put aside to eBay to raise funds.
Used underpants, thin tights and worn socks will need to go into our rag bin.
Toiletries, food, nappies, baby toiletries, medicines can all be sorted into the clearly marked areas as is.
Our aim is to make sure that we waste as little as possible and use all donations as effectively as we can.
Clearly, sorting incoming donations is much more complex than it perhaps would seem and so it is vital that it is done with care and everyone is aware of all of these different criteria. We talked about the importance of sending good quality, nicely folded and packed aid over quantity and thought we would firstly try only sorting as a group on a Saturday so that everyone works to the same specifications and from there, care and time could be taken throughout the week in sorting through and carefully packing, alongside all of the other RAFT jobs. This will be reviewed at a later stage after some feedback to see how it is working. racerback wedding dress
We also discussed the importance of asking for advice if unsure over any item!
I'm sure I've missed some things so am hoping this will be added to by the others at the training day!
And if you've made it through this huge spiel, you deserve a pat on the back and a cup of tea!