The Bloemfontein Blog is not meant to be a tool for me to do a ra-ra about my own personal projects, but seeing as this mission has shown me the unbelievable warmth in the hearts of Bloemfonteiners, it seems appropriate to do a little post about it. Oh, and the fact that it was splashed in today’s Volksblad makes it even more relevant for this local city blog.
One Man, One Coat… sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen me standing in the middle of the four-way crossing between Delta Bottle Store and Cubana (with my blue box on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Pres Reitz Street). The poster I’ve been wearing across my front and back reads: Join One Man, One Coat on Facebook. You might have been one of the people who drove past me this week and mouthed the words as you read them. If that was you, then join the Facebook page already!
If you’ve never experienced a winter in Bloemfontein, let me tell you (without scaring you away) that it’s cold (actually, make that COLD!). I’d forgotten about my hometown’s icy seasonal chill after so many years of living elsewhere, but landing here in the middle of a freezing spell, I was soon reminded of the reason why polar necks were invented. One Man, One Coat was born out of an empathy for people who live through these winters without the luxuries that I’m now finding comfort in everyday: an electric blanket, woollen slippers, hot water, airconditioned rooms…
I woke up at 4am one morning, clinging to my cushy duvet, with a little idea in my head. Within four hours, I’d planned my little project, given it a name and created a Facebook page to get it started. One Man, One Coat is a do-good community project that aims to show people that it really doesn’t take more than a few emails, a Facebook page and a few hours of ‘work’ to make a difference in people’s lives. Too often people say they want to do something good for others, but stop themselves because of the time and costs they think it will involve.
So you’re still wondering what this is all about, right? Okay, enough suspense. I’ve dedicated an hour of my day, Monday to Friday, for two weeks (okay, minus next Friday due to Oprah and her sudden appearance in Bloemfontein – but she is the mother of do-good deeds after all, so it’s a valid excuse) to stand in the street and collect clothing from people who bring me their old stuff. The idea is actually to get one item of clothing from each person, but Bloemfonteiners are so generous that I’ve been receiving bagfuls at a time! At the end of the project, these clothes will go to people who are struggling to make ends meet to buy food, let alone purchase new clothes without holes in them – from homeless street people, to those who have lost their homes and possessions due to fires (when you don’t have electricity, building a fire is your only way of keeping warm, but this is a dangerous option in many cases), to abandoned and abused kids who need an extra bit of warmth.
If, like me, you have this coat in your cupboard that is so last season, and it’s time to admit that you’re never going to wear it again, then maybe it’s time to rid yourself of the extra baggage. While clearing out your has-been wardrobe, know that you’re about to make someone’s ice-cold day a little bit warmer. Even a pair of socks could make all the difference…
Which brings me back to the first sentence in this post, about the kind Bloemfontein hearts. One week has passed since I actively started One Man, One Coat. In five hours (one hour Monday to Friday), I’ve probably received enough clothing to keep 150 people warmer this winter. The response has been incredibly overwhelming, and I am so grateful to each and every person who has opened up their heart to this project. Thank you Bloemfontein for giving me this great chance to show that I care about my city and its people.
One Man, One Coat – that’s all it takes to do something good.
Before you do anything else, join the One Man, One Coat Facebook page to keep up to date with the project.
Then bring your old socks, scarves, jerseys, gloves… anything and place them in my blue box.
Place: corner of 2nd Avenue and Pres Reitz Street
Date: Monday 20 June 2011 to Thursday 23 June 2011
Time: 1pm – 2pm