Dressing for Success and Awareness

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Charities in Savannah are using clothing to help the needy.

What we wear can make us feel powerful, and the right clothes can help us find a job, feel comfortable in different situations and show the world who we are. Fashion can also be a vehicle for fundraising and even protest. These charities throughout Savannah host events and provide clothing-focused services that raise money, spread awareness and help those in need. 

Wine, Women and Shoes

On May 2, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire will hold their Sixth annual Wine, Women and Shoes fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Savannah. 

The event will feature wine, a fashion show, live auction, food prepared by local chefs, designer shopping, a “Best in Shoe” contest and a key-to-the-closet and key-to-the-cellar raffle. The Charming Shoe Guys, manly volunteers from the local area, will circulate throughout the event, greeting guests, presenting designer items on silver platters, selling raffle tickets and providing choregraphed entertainment. Tickets to the event go on sale March 1 via winewomenandshoes.com and usually sell out quickly. Those with VIP tickets will be admitted to the event early and will be able to peruse the wares an hour before others. 

“This event mostly revolves around wine and shoes,” says Ronald McDonald House Charities events director Janet Kolbush. “The money raised helps provide a ‘home away from home’ for families who have critically-ill children receiving treatment at area hospitals.”

The Ronald McDonald House has 13 guest rooms, a full-service kitchen, laundry facilities, play areas and internet access. It also provides family rooms with similar amenities right in the hospital, allowing families to rest and regroup within steps of their child’s hospital room. 

Dressing for Success

If tidying guru Marie Kondo has inspired you to streamline your closet, the store at the Social Apostolate of Savannah accepts clothing donations and provides clothing vouchers to their thrift store. The vouchers help those in job readiness or substance abuse programs find clothing, and vouchers are  also granted for people who have faced a disaster like a house fire. Participants can select a certain number of clothes from the thrift store during store hours. In addition, school uniform vouchers are available for up to three children per family at the beginning of the school year. 

Those who wish to donate clothing in good condition to the Social Apostolate thrift store can drop their donations off at 502 E. Liberty St.

Jeans for Justice

Jeans for Justice began in 1999 after a judge in Italy overturned the rape conviction of a 45-year-old driving instructor, saying it was impossible for him to have sexually assaulted his 18-year-old student because she was wearing tight jeans, and, in the judge’s opinion, would have had to help the man remove her pants, implying consent. The next day, women in the Italian court system began wearing jeans as a sign of protest against this “alibi for rape.” Rape crisis centers around the country began holding Jeans for Justice events every April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, to bring attention to victim-blaming and sexual consent.

“People often get a sense of confidence from the clothes they wear, but in cases of sexual assault, clothing is sometimes used to blame the victim for what happened to them,” says Doris L. Williams, the director of the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire. “Jeans for Justice is a way to change the culture and shift focus from the behavior of the victims to the acts of the perpetrators. It gives the power back to victims and shows that no matter what you are wearing, you do not deserve to be assaulted.”

During the month of April, employees at participating businesses around Savannah give donations of $5-$20 to the Rape Crisis Center in exchange for a “dress-down day,” allowing them to wear jeans to work. The Rape Crisis Center sends out stickers and awareness materials to the partnering businesses and offers to provide education to employees about sexual assault. 

Businesses interested in participating in Jeans for Justice 2019 can call the Center at 912.233.3000 to have donations picked up by a staff member, and mailed checks are also accepted.