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Article posted on February 8, 2017

How collaboration helped warm Calgary teens this winter

My Best Friend’s Closet worked with Alberta’s Promise, donors, and volunteers to promote a winter clothing drive for teen girls.
My Best Friend’s Closet worked with Alberta’s Promise, donors, and volunteers to promote a winter clothing drive for teen girls.

It started with a coat rack.

As the Calgary weather turned colder in October 2016, Marcela Zafra contemplated how to fill the empty coat rack sitting in the Making Changes office. As program manager of My Best Friend’s Closet, which provides new and donated clothing to teenage girls from low-income homes, Zafra knew that despite lack of inventory, winter apparel would be in high demand in the coming months. With the help of Alberta’s Promise, donors, and program volunteers, she set to work launching a winter clothing drive to ensure no clients would be left out in the cold.

My Best Friend’s Closet provides functional and fashionable clothing to teen girls aged 12 to 18. Once referred to the program by youth-serving agencies, participants receive peer to peer support from similarly-aged volunteers as they spend 90 minutes talking, shopping, and trying on clothing in their very own fitting room. Teens leave the appointment feeling confident and empowered, taking home an entire year’s worth of clothing for everything from school to recreational activities. One participant called the experience the “shopping spree of [her] dreams,” adding that “the simplest things can inspire a girl to do big things.”

Open three Saturdays a month year-round and accommodating 20 participants a day, part of the success of My Best Friend’s Closet depends on maintaining a full and diverse inventory of clothing – especially during Calgary’s infamous winters. With this in mind, Zafra reached out to Alberta’s Promise for help in promoting the need for teen-sized jackets, hats, gloves, boots, and other winter apparel. Using fun social media graphics with a clear call to action, Alberta’s Promise promoted the clothing drive to its network of followers on Facebook and Twitter until well into December. Zafra also called on corporate donors and an engaged team of volunteers to launch their own clothing drives in support of the program with the help of a campaign playbook.

These collaborative initiatives yielded tremendous results, as My Best Friend’s Closet received enough donations of winter gear to fill entire clothing racks in the Making Changes office. In fact, so many winter coats were donated that funds usually reserved to purchase extras were reallocated to other areas of the program. Having successfully achieved one goal, My Best Friend’s Closet now has its sights set on ramping up donations of plus sized and petite clothing for teenage girls.

The lesson from My Best Friend’s Closet is clear: don’t go it alone. When planning your own giving campaign, rely on the strengths and networks of those around you to make your efforts go even further. For help with your own community involvement initiatives, contact Alberta’s Promise or check out our free toolkit for business.

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 08, 2017

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