A final (it’s really final this time! We swear!) count of 13,062 long-sleeve shirts made their way to drop-off sites nationwide this past National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW), during our National Long-Sleeve Shirt Drive.
That’s bags, stacks, piles, mounds, MOUNTAINS of shirts ready to find new homes with farmworker families.
We watched them multiply in our small Washington D.C. office too, as generous donors from all walks of life tossed their shirts into our collection box. However, unlike most donation drives which use the coordinating office as the final gathering point, all 13,062 shirts were never meant to pass through our hands. So – where do all those shirts go?
Here’s how it works.
AFOP partners, Health & Safety trainers, farmworker advocates, and independent contributors around the U.S. and Puerto Rico signed on with us as drop-off sites. During NFAW, everyone collected shirts, updates us on the numbers, and sends us pictures of their progress. When they were all done, they didn’t box the shirts up and ship them to us. Instead they gave them straight to their area farmworkers – directly or through a direct farmworker service organization of their choice! For example …
North Carolina’s Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) – the brain behind NFAW – distributed its collected shirts directly to the farmworkers in their community and to the North Carolina Farmworkers Project.
Also in North Carolina, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh took shirts to AFOP partner Telamon Corporation to be distributed at their health and safety trainings.
The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) group of Valdosta State University made a direct delivery to nearby Georgia farmworkers.
University of Idaho’s CAMP sent their collected shirts through the Community Council of Idaho, spreading the love to southern parts of the state.
Others among our Health & Safety partners – from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania to Washington – are taking their shirts right along to their trainings. That allows them to educate farmworkers on pesticide safety and heat stress prevention, then immediately provide them with a tool to alleviate those dangers.
Encouraging participants in the drive to donate their shirts locally, we broaden shirt distribution and spread the wealth all across the country. Each drive participant’s knowledge of their own local needs has the authority, so shirts end up in the right hands. Those who choose to distribute their shirts directly to farmworkers create a valuable opening for dialogue with the communities they find, often forming partnerships that otherwise wouldn’t have come about. As the cherry on top, there is no excess waste in shipping costs to and from a central collection point: freeing up more capital to go towards other farmworker initiatives and enabling more people to participate in the drive.
For more about the National Long-Sleeve Shirt Drive check out our website here, and if you have feedback about our collection process get in touch with our team any time. Thanks to every person who made this year’s National Long-Sleeve Shirt Drive – and all of NFAW – the most successful one yet!
CATEGORY: Special Events & Holidays, Agricultural Safety
TAGS: long-sleeve shirt, long-sleeve shirt drive, NFAW, SAF, CAMP, University of Idaho, NC Farmworker Project, Telamon, Community Council of Idaho, farmworker training, local, donation