Friday, July 22, 2016

The Clothes on My Back : *This Service Project Could Be a Movie*

 Service Project Reports Summer 2016 AMH 2020 student

The Clothes on My Back

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”- Audrey Hepburn

This summer has been a very dull one for myself. For 90 days I haven’t been able to leave my mom’s house unless I wanted to go to church or AA. I wasn’t permitted visitors, alcohol, nor was I allowed outside for more than 20 minutes at a time. I found that my hands were somewhat useless to everyone but myself and I let that get to me. I threw a couple pity parties for myself and stayed glued to my computer writing papers and watching Netflix for about 3-4 hours a day. I couldn’t help but stress over this project and was willing to give up on it and just make something up. That is until at church one Sunday a young man by the name of Austin came to me and asked how I was. As curtesy I did the same but I could hardly care less. We shook hands and I went home. Later that night I told my mom about running into Austin since it had been about four years since I had seen him and he was just as weird as I remembered him. She told me to cut him some slack because his family is poor and he has it rough. “Mom, we used to be poor and I still knew how to brush my hair” I said. To which she replied “Did your house burn down last week? I don’t think you what rough really is.”. Instantly I knew I had to do something.

Austin is 15 years old, gawky, over 6 feet tall, and very self-conscious. I remembered being 15 in high school and all the little things that scared me senseless like popularity, what I look like shirtless, and what my style was going to be. To add to his list of teenage angst he had a suitcase of possessions and no home. I wanted alieve some of his problems and hangout with the kid but I wasn’t allowed to see him, and even if I had money to give him I thought it would be inappropriate and might insult his parents. So I switched aims and I started a clothing drive for him.

Unfortunately I am 5’9” and about 140 on the scale so I had nothing of my own to offer him. So I reached out to my friends to drop off name brand clothes that they didn’t wear anymore. Before I go further I want anyone that reads this to understand that I know material objects such as high-end clothing are not important and do not dictate someone’s attractiveness. But I knew he would be provided for in terms of basic clothing and food so what I was doing was a charity to up his confidence a little, not further his survival.

Getting the right clothes was tricky. I needed them to be a certain size, lightly warn, and a respectable brand. I only had a handful of friends his size, and only one of them was willing to part with some of his nicer stuff that was still in good shape. This I understood, but I was determined so I reached out further. I called a couple of older gentlemen I know and I got a few shirts there. When my dad died last year we eventually donated most of his clothes but kept almost all of his 150+ ties. So I picked out about 20 high quality ties that a kid would like (i.e. no paisley or any other “old man” prints). After getting one, maybe two shirts or pants from 6 men I had 10 outfits and 20 ties for Austin featuring names for both formal and casual wear such as Saks, Charles Tyrwhitt of Jermyn Street London,

Quicksilver, Billabong, and more. Some stuff that would have grown men with careers turning their heads if walked by, and some stuff that would blend in with your average middle class kid.

After that I had one final goal, board-shorts for any beach, pool, or river ventures. Most guys will admit to putting a pretty high value on these, even if they are not into spending money on clothes. These were a little bit easier to come by in terms of sizing. All I needed to worry about was waist size, a 34, which is very common. Within two days I had 6 pairs all of which being popular surf brands very common for kids his age to wear. Not only did have some fun and “cool kid” suits, he had 6 of them which is about 5 more than I have at the moment.

Once again I know this project sounds sort of superficial but high school can be intimidating as a freshman who doesn’t know many kids his own age and no interest in sports or clubs. One’s outfit is often were someone’s first impression of another is generated. This way he might have just one less thing to worry about his first day of school August 15th and I’m proud to say I helped with that.