It’s not every Sunday afternoon that we find ourselves knee-deep in thousands of pairs of kids’ underwear. Now before you go calling the authorities, consider this: according to the Colorado Health Foundation’s most recent Colorado Health Report Card, more than 143,000 children in Colorado live in poverty. Our state ranks 14th in the nation for children living below the poverty line.
What do these things have to do with each other? Well, this holiday season thanks to a start-up charity called Underwearness, thousands of kids will receive new, clean underwear – something most of us take for granted, but for many underprivileged kids it is a rare extravagance. As part of its Get Giving 10th Anniversary campaign, GroundFloor Media’s Underdogs team (Wendy Artman, Carissa McCabe, Amy Moynihan, Claire Mylott and Ramonna Robinson) helped Underwearness founder Koree Khongphand-Buckman purchase and hand-sort thousands of pairs of girls’ and boys’ underwear. Koree started Underwearness out of her home when it came to her attention that some poverty-stricken children do not have underwear — clean or otherwise.
With Koree’s help the Underdogs team literally emptied the aisles at the local Kmart, then proceeded to count, sort by size and gender, and jam-pack boxes to help fulfill orders for several nonprofit organizations around town, including Safehouse Denver.
As we were diligently counting and sorting, what struck us most was the sheer volume of underwear needed by each organization. Safehouse Denver alone needed more than 1,000 pairs of varying sizes of underwear to accommodate the boys and girls it serves. All of us who volunteered that afternoon are mothers ourselves, and it was hard not to think about our own children and how fortunate we are to be able to provide for them. By literally being knee-deep in underwear destined for shelters, our eyes were truly opened to the dire straits of other Colorado families. There is something particularly enlightening about holding another child’s basic needs in your hands that stops you in your tracks.
In an effort to include GFM team members outside Colorado, too, the Underdogs have joined forces with Underwearness to launch a giving campaign in Milwaukee, where Wendy is based. Koree introduced us to a local supporter there, and we are helping to promote a drive with the goal of collecting 5,000 pairs of underwear for local nonprofit Journey House. Journey House will then distribute the underwear to families in need on Milwaukee’s south side.
We couldn’t be more proud to have helped Underwearness on a recent Sunday afternoon and to have expanded our support outside Colorado to the current fundraising drive in Milwaukee. Although our part is just a small drop in the bucket toward satisfying the demand for clean underwear, we walked away with a new appreciation for what a good heart, a great idea and lot of hard work can do. Thank you Koree and the Underwearness team for all you do to give kids dignity!
NOTE: if you’d like to get involved in our effort to support Underwearness in Colorado or in Wisconsin, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.