Every holiday season, it's easy to get carried away by all of the gifts you'll likely be receiving. But before you fill your closet and dresser drawers, LGBTQIA+-friendly underthings retailer Bluestockings Boutique has a great way to help you empty them for a charitable cause. Bluestockings Boutique is sponsoring a bra drive to benefit Rosie's Place, the country's first all-women's shelter.
Now through Dec. 20, Bluestockings owner Jeanna Kadlec is collecting gently used and new bras as well as new underwear, socks, and binders to donate to Rosie's Place, which is an LGBTQIA+ inclusive shelter in Boston, Massachusetts. Folks can mail their donations to Kadlec at Bluestockings Boutique, P.O. Box 441427, Somerville, MA 02144. Local Boston-area residents can also drop off donation items year-round; and if you want to make a monetary donation but you're out of town, you can do so on the Rosie's Place website.
Bluestockings actually hosted its first bra drive for Rosie's Place last January before its online boutique had even launched. It was an in-person drive at Diesel Cafe, a queer-owned coffeeshop in Somerville, Massachusetts. "At the time, I was trying to think of ways to connect with and give back to my local community, even though Bluestockings would be an online-only destination," Kadlec tells me via email. "I was also really conscious of the fact that my store served a demographic that is often socioeconomically underprivileged. A bra drive for a local shelter seemed like a natural way to give back."
Although giving back during the holidays is important, Kadlec adds that people need to be mindful year-round of those who go without the basics many of us take for granted, which is why Bluestockings accepts donation items at all times. "It's important to remember that here in the US, many of us have most of what we need and a good deal of what we want," she says. "Something so many of us take for granted — supportive, clean undergarments — make all the difference to people experiencing homelessness."
In addition to the bras that Kadlec collects from the drive, she also participates by donating some of her store's inventory. While clothing donations are irrevocably important to shelters, Kadlec tells me that underthings are often forgotten. "Women's shelters are always in need of clothing donations, but especially underthings," she says. "These are invisible items people don't think about purchasing or donating."
Since 1974, Rosie's Place has been providing a safe and nurturing environment for women who are in poverty and/or experiencing homelessness as the first women's shelter established in the States. The shelter services more than 12,000 women per year and provides them not only with meals and shelter, but also helps them obtain housing and education services. Though Kadlec is not directly affiliated with Rosie's Place, she understands its impact in the community. "Rosie's Place has 1,100 scheduled appointments with women ages 18 to 80 every month, and they provide 300 women with emergency housing," she says. "Clothing is one of the services these women are offered."
Even though it has been an unusually warm winter thus far in the Midwest and Northeast, the climate is still likely to reach the frigid temperatures that make this season particularly difficult for those experiencing homelessness. "As someone who grew up working class in cold-weather regions of the United States, I've always been keenly aware of how this time of year disproportionately impacts the lower classes, and especially people experiencing homelessness," Kadlec notes.
So gather up your gently used underthings and get them off to Bluestockings Boutique, or donate them to your own local shelter. The holidays are an important time for fashion lovers to think about all the ways that emptying their closets can help a fellow woman in need.
Image: Courtesy Bluestockings