Shop For A Cause

July 01, 2010 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

Every Thursday this summer, come back to The Causemopolitan to read a guest post that will inspire you right up out of your seat to get involved and give back in a special series called Cause It’s Summer! Featured bloggers will be sharing their own reflections and stories, tips and resources, and perspective on philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and their own cause-filled life. This week welcome Tori Mistick, and listen to her advice about how to shop (or clean out your closet) to support a cause.

You don’t have to start a charity or donate hours upon hours of your time to make a difference in your community. Just try cleaning out your closet! This is something that most of us do anyhow, and you can make the most of it by making sure that your gently used garments go to a thrift store or charity that benefits your local community.

Here in Pittsburgh, where I live, I have worked closely with the thrift and consignment stores owned by the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section. Their thrift stores accept all kinds of thrifty goods such as clothing, furniture and home accessories and at their upscale consignment store you will find women’s clothing, shoes and accessories with an exclusive pedigree. Donating items to these stores allows the NCJW to raise money for their many local projects such as Suit Yourself, which provides free business clothing to people re-entering the workforce, and Children’s Rooms in the Courts, which provides ano-cost place for kids to play rather than listening to their parents battle it out in court.

Working with the NCJW, I found that the way to really help them raise money goes beyond donating items, they need you to shop with them for new things! This is how the stores make money and the organization can continue to do good work locally.** So if you want to have a cause filled summer, get out and shop for a cause!** Resale stores are not all outdated and unwanted items. I have found some of my greatest finds there. Actually, much of the wardrobe for Sloane Berrent’s Cause It’s My Birthday! tour was sourced from local resale shops that invest in the community. Discounted items were good for her pocket, and she was able to dress in style.

To find a resale shop near you check out the National Association of Resale Professionals. However, this site does not list if stores are charity-geared, so please call ahead to check.

If you are not in the mood to shop, there are many options for donating to charities where you know the pieces will be worn and loved by someone. You are never going to wear that prom dress or bridesmaid dress again and there are thousands of high school girls around the country who cannot afford a new prom dress. Try doing a search on for a gown drop off near you. Rather than piling up in a thrift store, where your dress may be selected as a Halloween costume, the charities listed on Donate My Dress give the gowns to young girls who need them. This a great self confidence booster and can make such a difference in someone’s life.

There are many other options for how to donate your unwanted clothes and accessories in a meaningful way. What I really wanted to convey here is that giving back to your community can be as easy as cleaning out your closet, everyone can do it and it is a small amount of effort to make a big difference in the lives of those around you.

On top of all the goodwill that recycling your clothes will create, also consider the green aspect. If we all shopped more at resale shops, rather than buying new every time, there would be far fewer pesticides and less energy used to produce new fabrics and garments. The ultimate eco-friendly fashion is reusing existing items. Try hemming a vintage dress to mini-skirt length, or dying a yellowed white blouse hot pink to refresh pre-loved items. Vintage items also tend to be better made and will last longer than fast fashion finds.

Tori Mistick has been recognized as one of the top young professionals in Pittsburgh. She has worked for a lifestyle magazine, an eco-friendly fashion accessories company, a national high-end retailer and for an ad agency as the in-house Social Media expert. Tori holds a Certificate in Fashion Promotion from London College of Fashion and a Bachelors degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Duquesne University. Combing these two specialties and passions, Tori recently started her own eponymous company doing social media marketing consulting for small businesses and boutiques.

Tori believes the worst crime of fashion is to blend in, and vies to be unique in everything she does for herself and her clients. In addition to managing social media for a variety of clients, Tori can often be found in the city's parks with her chocolate lab or putting the finishing touches on one of her own fashion designs. She is continually inspired to use existing items in new ways, especially when it comes to fashion. Check out her blog Eco-Fashionista for eco-friendly fashion news and ideas. If you are up for it, also visit Tori’s other blog Free Fashion Advice for the ugly truth on Pittsburgh style.