Lorraine Jones, who co-ordinated and led our School Uniform Bank in July, reflects on the event…
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
Matthew 14:20–21, NIV version
Instead of twelve basketfuls of bread, substitute a car boot full of school uniforms and hanging rails. This was what was left after the School Uniform Bank event in July 2021. Everyone in our community got what they needed and still there was some left over. The thing that God does amazingly well are those completely unexpected blessings which make you go ‘wow’ — taking a little gem of an idea and making it into so much more. God’s certainly done it again with this event.
Our aim as a planning team was to try it out to see if it was something the community needed. If we helped just a handful of families then great: job done. If we kept some school uniforms out of landfill, again, job done.
Everyone in our community got what they needed and still there was some left over.
It turns out it did more than that along the way! For starters, planning and running the thing — with a great team of volunteers from all of the churches — in the village was a joy. Some said how lovely it was to be doing something like this again. It brought us together by meeting, greeting, sewing, sorting, washing, designing, promoting, driving and biscuit-eating. 😇 I’m never one to miss a chance to chat, so it was a blessing to catch up with folk from our community and just be together. As a team, I think this is one of the things we want to build on: to use it as a convenient excuse to get people together.
Despite rain on the day, people came along on ‘pick up day’ and took home what they needed. There were so many positive comments and people were very grateful for the help, whether it saved them some money or they wanted to support the event to avoid wasting perfectly good uniforms. Many left kind messages on Facebook and promoted it to their friends etc. In fact, the event got in front of over 3,000 people on Facebook!
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Click a small thumbnail photo to see it larger.
Receiving donations of school uniforms on Drop-Off Day, sorting them, then getting ready to welcome people on Collection Day.
This got the attention of the media and the team was on the radio. (I know: get us, right?! Stop laughing!) I’ve put those details further down in case you wanted to check them out. BBC Radio York, Greatest Hits Radio York and BBC Newsround have all been in touch. I’ll send links around as and when they are available. It’s great that the event and the Churches in the community are getting an extra bit of publicity but, I hope, more than anything it shows people that someone does care and that people are trying to help. Offering a little bit of hope in a difficult world seems a simple but powerful thing.
Another blessing is that we have been able to work alongside, and have the support of, so many in the community: the charity shops, the parents, the schools, the PTAs, the Local Area Coordinator and the Food Share Project at the Memorial Hall. Everyone wanting to help each other out. It’s great encouragement for putting on further events like this and meeting other needs in our community.
It shows people that someone does care and that people are trying to help
I hope we were able to do a bit to help out many families in this community — but, God being God, there’s more. A boot load of leftover uniforms is going to Danebury Drive Food Share, where it will help out other families in York. Like those leftover baskets of bread, we don’t get to hear about the families they went on to feed. But God knows and knew all along who needed to be blessed.
So, we are already thinking ahead for next year. If you have any thoughts, ideas or feedback that we can take forward, please get in touch. We’d love to hear them and build on this year’s success to make it a beautiful community event where people can simply be together and breathe a sigh of relief that their uniform bill is not going to be quite as bad as they thought.
We’ll provide the place and the people and let God handle the rest.
God bless you for your prayers and support,
The School Uniform Bank Planning Team