Donations of bras in Comox Valley helping human trafficking survivors
Comox Valley women have jumped at the chance to help human trafficking survivors, simply by donating their bras.
"It's going well; it's going very well actually," says Yvonne Moran-Mead, who started collecting bras in the Comox Valley with her 18-year-old daughter Demi.
Yvonne and Demi recently discovered Free The Girls, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that collects new and gently used bras to send to female human trafficking survivors in other parts of the world. The women then sell the garments to earn their own money as they start their lives over.
The project has been successful so far in Mozambique where women made up to five times minimum wage selling bras, and it's expected to expand to Kenya, Uganda, Mexico and El Salvador.
When Yvonne and Demi heard about the success of the initiative, they decided to become a collection location in Canada.
They can pick up bras from Campbell River to Nanaimo because their Comox Valley business, Sweet Little Baby Cakes — a home-based business selling decorative 'cakes' made out of baby diapers — requires them to travel regularly up and down the mid-Island.
When the Record reported on their project at the beginning of the month they had about 40 bras. Since then, community interest has grown, there are three more drop-off locations and about 320 bras have been donated as of this week.
"That's a very large amount," adds Yvonne. "It didn't take much from anybody in the community because anybody that did donate, said, 'Oh yeah, it's easy to do, it's an awesome idea.'
"That's kind of what kept it rolling and knowing that the women now can use those (bras) — it is going to make a difference (for them)."
Secret Drawers Lingerie (431 Fifth St. in Courtenay), the Comox Community Centre (1855 Noel Ave.) and Dandelion Heartwork (7017 Leland Rd. in Lantzville) have stepped up as drop-off locations, but the Comox Community Centre will only be a drop-off location until the end of March.
Alternately, anyone who would like bras picked up from their home or business can contact Yvonne or Demi at 250-897-3224, email@example.com or through their website at www.sweetlittlebabycake.weebly.com.
Yvonne stresses bras can be any size, shape or colour, including nursing bras, sports bras and camisoles. She notes many women have been concerned their bras are not fancy enough to donate, but they really don't need to be fancy and plain bras are gladly accepted.
She says meeting so many women during bra pickups has been fun, and points out one woman in particular who heard about the initiative and gathered a whopping 59 bras from her friends after cleaning out her own unused bras from her drawer.
"She said, 'My goodness, I had quite a few myself' and she handed me this huge garbage bag when I drove out to pick up the bras," recalls Yvonne. "It's been kind of cool because lots of the women want to actually speak to you when you pick up the bras, which has been really awesome, so I've gotten to hear probably more stories than I needed to know (laughs) about their bra situation, but it's been really fun that way."
As well, Yvonne and Demi offer $3 off of their baby diaper packages per bra donation, and Yvonne says some donations have been coming in that way as well.
A woman "ordered a cake from us for her daughter's baby shower and she sent out the word to all 30 of her guests, 'Hey, you've got to bring a bra!' So that's awesome," adds Yvonne.
"Both my daughter and I feel, everybody — not just us — but everybody's helped make a difference for those women, which has been great. So we really appreciate what everybody's done."
For more information on Free The Girls visit www.freethegirls.org.