Kids delighted with clothes made from police uniforms
An innovative idea to transform used police and emergency services uniforms into children’s clothing is supporting families in poverty and helping the environment at the same time.
Uniforms4Kids, a charity founded on the Sunshine Coast and partner charity of Express Print & Mail, repurposes donated uniforms into beautiful clothes made with love. Law enforcement agencies, emergency services and even Australia Zoo are involved in the program, which has donated more than 22,000 items to kids who have a need.
Across the country, hundreds of volunteers sew their way into kids’ hearts by crafting pants, shirts, jackets, dresses, skirts, hats, tracksuit pants and more from the donated materials. There are no rules, leaving the designs up to the imagination of the skilled and generous volunteers who sew the clothing.
Uniforms4Kids returns the unique items to the agency or service, which then delivers the clothing, creating a connection point with local communities. The charity has supported domestic violence centres, foster children, hospital children’s wards, Indigenous communities and homeless families.
Breaking the cycle of poverty
The excitement and smiles on the children’s faces make it all worthwhile, says director and retired Acting Assistant Commissioner of Queensland Police Anne Macdonald APM.
“The children love getting something special made just for them. We had one group contact us with a ‘problem’. The kids wouldn’t take the clothes off. Their parents wanted to wash the kids and the clothes but the children wanted to keep them on. The majority of these children have never had a new outfit,” Anne said.
“One parent told us they never went to school as they only wore a nappy and a pair of shorts for the first ten years of their life. By giving children clothing, they go to school with a sense of pride and they learn. We hope this clothing will help break the cycle of child poverty.”
Swing tags printed by Express Print & Mail
Every item includes a swing tag printed and donated by Express Print & Mail with a description of the service that supplied the uniforms.
“The swing tags that EPM so wonderfully prints mean the kids can identify the agency the item came from – ambulance, the dog squad, traffic police, bomb squad. The tags include a photo of an officer representing that agency and a description of what they do. The kiddies love it. It brings them closer to law enforcement and shows their families that law enforcement is there to help them,” Anne explained.
A bonus of the initiative is that it reduces the amount of clothing that goes to landfill. On average, each Australian sends 23 kilograms of clothing to landfill each year, which takes up to 200 years to decompose.
Keeping clothing out of landfill
Previously, old uniforms would be cut up and thrown in the bin. A lightbulb moment between Yvonne Pattinson OAM and her daughter, Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz, Queensland Police, came up with the idea of turning used uniforms into clothing.
Fast forward 6 years and there are now sewing groups all over Queensland, in Melbourne and South Australia, as well as many individuals sewing on their own.
“I can’t sew a button on, I have no idea but I appreciate what our volunteers do,” says Anne. “The majority of our volunteers are retirees. Making clothing for Uniforms4Kids has given them a new sense of purpose and an opportunity to get their creative juices flowing. They are meeting new people and having a wonderful time together. They love being able to give something back.”
Interested in getting involved?
There are Uniforms4Kids sewing groups in Buderim, Cooroy, Bli Bli, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Toowoomba. Anne is keen to start a group in the Hervey Bay area.
If you would like to get involved with a group or are interested in sewing, call Anne on 0428 906 354 or email Anne. Uniforms4Kids supplies everything you need, so no volunteers are left out of pocket.
Or you can support their work by making a tax deductible donation at https://uniforms4kids.com.au/.