Whether it is back-to-school, family photos, or just the day-to-day outfits, kids always seemingly “need” a new outfit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the U.S. apparel industry today is a $12 billion business with the average American family spending $1,700 on clothes annually. While that may only account for 3.5% of the family’s income, what is significant is the amount of outfits each member averages. In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that figure is 30 outfits — one for every day of the month.
While the amount of individuals might not change, one positive thing emerging are companies like Rockin’ Baby. Rockin’ Baby sells baby slings and children’s clothing. In 2011, they started Mother-to-Mother, for every sling purchased, Rockin’ Baby donates a new sling to a mother in need, while educating her on the importance it holds in her baby’s life. By purchasing a Rockin’ Baby sling a mother and her child in Haiti and beyond can learn how slings can be part of their daily lives, no matter how they struggle with their basic needs. In turn, these babies will be healthier, more attached to their mothers and begin a life more fulfilled and optimistic.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:34-36
They share on their website how they decided to give clothing and slings back to children and families in need.
“When we started talking about adding new items to the Rockin’ Baby assortment we thought first and foremost about what we could match it with to donate – making sure what we sold would be helpful to children and babies around the world. What better than clothes to keep them warm and comfortable. It’s not much to ask is it? Not to be naked or run around in rags? So for every item of clothing we sell we will manufacture an identical quantity of clothes to donate around the world. Each season we will calculate how many orders we have and offer the exact same quantity to the charities we work with and they will tell us what they need.”
Similar to Mother-to-Mother, Rockin’ Baby also donates an item of children’s clothing to partner organizations for each article of children’s clothing purchased. They are currently working with Heart to Heart and ChildFund. Heart to Heart is an established charity based in Shanghai who care for children and babies awaiting urgent heart surgery. These children live in poverty but are seriously ill and ‘heart to heart’ does all they can voluntarily to help look after, play with, and ensure they feel safe and loved. Rockin’ Baby provides clothing and blankets to them.
They are also working with ChildFund, which is currently working in West Africa caring for the thousands of children whose parents have died from Ebola. Shunned by their communities these children have been forced to live on the streets with no clothing or care so ChildFund are providing them with protection and food and with us they will be clothed and kept warm.
“I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25: 43-45
Rockin’ Baby explains how they chose which items to send to the organizations.
“The collection we will give away is our hero collection and had a fun, unisex, bright orange and red striped design. The quality is just as good as the clothes we sell – in fact it’s so good and so adorable we have decided to also sell it to retailers who want to stock it. So if our charities tell us they need just dresses or leggings in age 2-3 and 3-4 then that’s what we’ll make them.”
Buy products that give back. Everyday we purchase items that we need. There are so many amazing companies that give back to organizations and communities. When possible, purchase these items. They are often the same cost and quality as others on the market and are helping others with the their resources and profits. Take time and read what they are doing with the organizations that they partner with. Many have created videos to help show their partners how their profits are used.
Don’t waste. Be a good steward of what has been entrusted to you. Rather than purchase 30 new outfits, consider purchasing less for yourself and donating the extra money to an organization you are passionate about. It is also good to do a closet cleanse each season. Go through the clothes you have. Donate the ones that don’t fit or that you don’t wear to a local thrift store. Also, there are many organizations that need clothing donations like women’s shelters, homeless ministries and international organizations. Consider giving your unused clothing to them as well.
Teach your children to give. Whether it is your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, take opportunities to teach children how to give. It might mean that in order for them to receive a new toy or piece of clothing, they have to pick out one that they want to give to a charity. If you purchase items from companies that give back, you can watch the videos about the groups that they help and discuss as a family what you watched. Take time and pray for the countries that the groups that you donate to live in.