Collecting Clothes: An Exponential Equation. How one family collected enough donations to fill a truck

Collecting Clothes: An Exponential Equation.
How one family collected enough donations to fill a truck.

This is the story behind our first run with our new truck, please share around and please donate to help pay for the truck and keep it on the roads!

img_3970“At first Mum worried we wouldn’t get anything so she went around to secondhand shops,” Fiona Hamilton said, then laughed. She and her two sisters, Katrina and Jennifer Murphy, her brother Hugh and husband Craig were standing amidst vast piles of 347 boxes they’d just delivered to Re-Act’s premises at Studio24 in Edinburgh. Boxes that seemed to take up the entire dance floor of the club where Kurt Cobain once played.

“We had 4,000 nappies, 1,000 towels, 1,500 bars of soap, 20 strollers,” Katrina marvelled.

It all started when Katrina, a word-working teacher at a special needs school in Dublin, decided to spend a month working with refugees on the Greek island of Samos this summer. As soon as she arrived, Katrina was thrown into games with children. She was put to work helping with Samos Volunteers’ main task – the distribution of clothes and hygiene items to about 1,000 people. Her wood working skills did not go unnoticed as she was soon building things such as swing sets and blackboards.

img_3974Meanwhile, she kept calling her family in Glasgow, who informally raised money for various smaller items needed in the camp. Tennis balls, plastic stools, towels, baby wipes. She took note that at their warehouse, Samos Volunteers was running short of particularly crucial items like mens’ small and medium sized clothing and shoes, joggers with stretchy waists, bras, hijabs. In Samos, she met fellow Scott Janet McCall, who told her that if the family collected clothing, Re-Act could help deliver the donations to Greece.

It was at this point that Katrina’s younger sister, Fiona, and her mother Grace Murphy went to work, organizing what they thought would be a simple church-based appeal. Fiona spoke with the Parish priest at St. Joseph’s in Clarkston. Grace approached Father Peter at Christ the King’s in King’s Park, which is the family parish. They also contacted the Church of Scotland in Greenbank, and the Andalus Islamic Center in the West End.

Soon they had so many donations, they could hardly get into their houses. “Our front room was filled with boxes. We started to fill the second bathroom, then the third bedroom,” Fiona said.

“We were renovating,” Craig added. “We just put that on hold for a while.” Katrina showed photos of her two small nephews climbing in and out of boxes. Her mother’s house was also filling.

img_3983Donations included 100 tennis balls from Newlands Tennis Club, ten footballs from the Glasgow Club, boxes of Arabic and educational books and hijabs from the Andalus Islamic Center, clothes from the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund. A 94 year old Italian woman donated beautiful full length silk dresses and invited Fiona and her family to dinner.

“But it was when people called to say they were collecting from people at work that we realised how big it was going to be,” she said.

Sorting, boxing and labelling took up almost every evening of September, even with husbands, cousins, aunts, uncles and neighbours joining in. Katrina has flown in from her work in Dublin every weekend to help.

When it was all done, the family had collected and packed 347 boxes and 26 black bags of donations, 19 baby strollers and a travel cot.

Re-Act’s fundraiser to pay for the truck and keep it on the road:

Samos Volunteers’ website: