Nonprofits encourage sustainability, support for LGBTQ+ youth at Back-to-School Swap

Published: Aug. 27, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2023 at 11:54 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Dozens of community members in the Lowcountry gathered on Sunday for a Back-to-School Clothing Swap.

The event was hosted by nonprofits We Are Family, which supports LGBTQ+ youth, and Naked Lady Society, which focused on providing free clothing for communities in need.

Event organizers say these swaps have been a part of the community for the past three years and have seen hundreds of faces in turnout.

“We’ve been having these events with Naked Lady Society for quite some time. Each time it’s more special, it gets bigger every time,” We Are Family Community Events Director Jonatan Guerrero-Ramirez said.

People came into the Equality Hub carrying bags of old or unworn clothes, school supplies and accessories.

They got the chance to swap out and leave with a completely new closet, free of charge.

“They can just take whatever they want. No catch, no cost. It’s very much fair game,” Naked Lady Society Representative Sheilagh Carlisle said.

Event organizers had a table set up with back-to-school supplies: uniforms, notebooks, book bags and more.

Organizers, volunteers and visitors say these swaps are multi-faceted, serving multiple parts of the community.

One goal of this month’s three-hour event was to create better sustainability for the environment.

Americans can generate up to 16 million tons of textiles every year, according to the National Environmental Protection Agency.

Organizers say events like this one have been a small source of lowering those numbers within the Palmetto State.

“At our last event, we averaged about 8,000 pounds of textiles that we kept from hitting landfills,” Naked Lady Society representative Betsy Padilla said.

One volunteer says it not only prevents clothing from going into landfills but gives Queer youth and allies an opportunity to feel more comfortable with personal identities.

“They have enough to worry about their day to day lives,” We Are Family Volunteer Ashley said. “Worrying about what kind of clothes they’re going to wear to school or events they can go to with their friends. This provides that for them.”

Several participants in the swap say they left feeling inspired and look forward to coming back.

“It’s important for the LGBTQ+ community, they need to be represented. This is in a low-income area, and I feel like it’s good for the community, they can just come in. And of course, sustainability, we need to work together to save the earth,” Clothes Swapper Michelle Junga said.

Organizers say they host these swaps every other month, so if you missed this event, you still have a chance to come out and experience it.

For more information on upcoming events, click here.