Ridgewood YMCA clothing drive collections delivered to Haiti

Posted: Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Over 7000 boxes of clothes and shoes arrive in Port au Prince with distribution now underway.

[RIDGEWOOD, NJ, APRIL 4, 2011]- Volunteers traveled to Haiti last month to begin distribution of items from the Ridgewood YMCA’s 2010 clothing drive to support the people of Haiti. The clothing drive, organized in partnership with the Wells Mountain Foundation, was undertaken in February 2010, a month after the January earthquake that devastated the country.

Over 7000 boxes of clothing and shoes were donated and shipped, including over 100,000 pairs of jeans. Many of the jeans were donated by retailer Aeropostale through its Jeans For Teens Program. Says Tom Wells, President of the Wells Mountain Foundation and among the volunteers that traveled to Haiti last month, “The response from everyone was incredible. We lost count as the bags of donated clothes and shoes came pouring in”.

The donated items were shipped over in twelve 40-foot containers that will stay in Haiti and be retrofitted with doors and windows and turned into schools. Rick Claydon, Ridgewood YMCA CEO and also among the volunteers who traveled to Haiti, said that two containers were also completely transformed into a new YMCA building. “The new YMCA is perched near the top of a mountain with a stunning panoramic view and will provide adult literacy classes, a youth soccer program, a library and other social services for the community of Laboule”.

Although the containers were shipped in May of 2010 and arrived in The Dominican Republic in June 2010, it took several more months for the containers to be cleared through customs and transported to Port au Prince to be emptied. A team of 17 volunteers from New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Ohio traveled to Haiti to distribute the clothes and retrofit the containers.

Clothing was distributed to over 1200 men, woman and children during the week long visit and YMCA d’Haiti staff will continue the clothing distributions around the country. Says Wells, “With the quantities collected, our partners have enough clothes to continue distribution for a year or more. We also left them with the tools, materials and newly acquired skills to continue to convert the remaining containers and create new centers of hope throughout the still recovering country.”