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Bra Collection for Free the Girls

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Now here is a new idea: philanthropic bras!  This is a fun and easy project in which we can all participate.  Free the Girls (http://freethegirls.org) is a small, non-profit organization in the US which supports women and girls in Mozambique rescued from sex trafficking.  (Four other countries are being added to the network in 2013.)  The organization was featured in a CNN Freedom Project documentary.  By partnering with safe houses and after-care facilities, Free the Girls provides an opportunity for these women to earn a living selling second-hand clothing while going to school, improving their health, and helping to provide for their families.   FAWCO’s EVAWAC Committee of the Human Rights Team has launched an initiative to collect new or gently-used bras for these women to sell.  The women are given a starting inventory, and then, with their profits, may purchase additional inventory below wholesale cost.  Revenue from sales to the women helps to subsidize program costs. AWG Languedoc-Roussillon is supporting Free the Girls and helped to fill a “Hope Chest'” with a donation of 26 “new or slightly used” bras which will be sent to Mozambique thanks to the Free the Girls project.  By donating bras, we are helping to provide jobs for former sex slaves.

On a recent trip to the US, I dropped off the club’s contribution at the Hope Chest, Philadelphia's "premiere lingerie shop." The shop first opened in Philadelphia more than twenty-five years ago, but then closed in 2006 in favor of a non-center-city location in Haverford, Pa.  It re-opened at 1937 Chestnut Street in central Philadelphia in 2012 with a "French-inspired, shabby chic, bedroom-esque theme" (www.hopechestshop.com). I found out about the shop by checking the Free the Girls website for drop-off points in the US during my vacation there and compared with stops on my itinerary.  The owner of the Philadelphia shop, who was a long-time manager in Haverford, took the photos of AWG-LR's contribution.  She found out about the Free the Girls project via their website after seeing the CNN Freedom Project documentary. Bras can also be sent directly to the Free the Girls domestic shipping address at 1552 Pioneer Trail, Chesterton, Indiana  46304, accompanied by the “Bra Donation Form” which is available on the Free the Girls website.  They suggest that you might want to make a financial contribution to help cover overseas program costs and shipping.  They call it "a buck and a bra." Melissa Swearingen Watson, National Director of Free the Girls, extended her heartfelt thanks to members of AWG-LR and any other FAWCO clubs which participate.  She said they love their FAWCO partners!

Maggie Palu
FAWCO Rep, AWG Languedoc-Roussillon

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