Along the Keston Road in Thiruvananthapuram, you are likely to come across a red box in front of a shop. The box is six-feet high, much like a large postbox, but it is not a mere spectacle—it serves a much greater and humanitarian purpose!
A part of an initiative spearheaded by Support 4 Society (S4S), a city-based non-profit organisation, the red box is actually a dress bank where one can either drop the clothes he or she no longer uses or go the extra mile and donate brand new clothes.
A collective, comprising like-minded individuals from across the city who invest their free time volunteering for charity initiatives, S4S has kickstarted the project to ensure that no one feels left out without an ‘Onakkodi’—the customary practice of gifting new outfits during Onam—especially the people living on streets.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Syam Thampanoor, the founder of S4S, says, “The larger aim is that every other needy person in the city is well clothed.”
It all began when a friend of one of the S4S members was getting married and wanted to commemorate the occasion by giving back to the society through a dress bank. She expressed her idea to the organisation, which was met with overwhelming support and soon, a dress bank was set up to help the needy in the city.
The first such bank was recently inaugurated by Sriram Venkitaraman, the Managing Director of KASE (Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence), and Narayana Bhattathiri, an award-winning calligraphy artist, and within a week of its installation, the volunteers found the box filled up to the brim with clothes and towels.
Seeing the impact, S4S now aims to expand their charitable mission and have already identified different locations in and on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, where clothes are needed. They are also in touch with orphanages and nursing homes across the city.
As shopping malls witness major footfalls every day, S4S intends to install more of these dress banks across major shopping centres in the city, and subsequently in other districts.
“Although we are getting calls, as of now we haven’t started the distribution as we are short of the required number of clothes. Only when we have enough cloth materials for every person in a particular institution can we start the distributing it. We hope that this Onam, we will be able to mobilise enough people so that every needy individual will get a fresh ‘Onakkodi,’” Syam mentioned.
As for the dress bank in Keston Road, one can either drop washed and ironed clothes in it (collection happens every week) or directly contact S4S if they have old and usable clothes. Syam also added that if one comes across anyone or any place with an acute shortage of clothes, he or she should call their team without any hesitation.
To know more, you can reach out to the S4S team at (0471)2117777.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)