INTERVIEW- Mom that gives back with a Charitable Initiative!

Janis Lempera

by Natalia Pack
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Owner of a Charitable Initiative,”Ripple Clothes for Kids”

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RIPPLE CLOTHES FOR KIDS: Ripple Clothes for Kids is a charitable initiative launched by Toronto moms in May 2015.

They collect new and gently used infant and children’s clothing, sort it and bundle it into mini-wardrobes that are distributed to local agencies and shelters.

1. What is Project Snowman?
PROJECT SNOWMAN -distributing warmth to some of the city’s priority neighbourhoods.Nearly one-third of Toronto children live in low-income households and many will have nothing to wear during our long and cold Canadian winter with the kids  Ripple Clothes for Kids is launched PROJECT SNOWMAN – a winter clothing drive
and fundraising campaign to collect or buy 1,000 snowsuits
for Toronto children in need.

 Here’s a link for more info on their campaign, including a list of drop-offs and partner schools for a donation-location near you: http://rippleclothesforkids.org/project-snowman/
Here’s a link to their Facebook page:
facebook.com/rippleclothesforkids 

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2. Why did you start Ripple Clothes for Kids? 

This spring, while on maternity leave with my youngest, I noticed my older daughter had grown out of all of her clothing. I casually mentioned her growth spurt to a few friends and within a week I was flooded with hand-me-downs. While I loved shopping my way through the mountain of barely worn outfits, I felt embarrassed at how easy it was more me to acquire great clothing for free when there are people in our city who need it so much more than us. One thing I heard a lot was “I just like to know where my kids’ clothes are going, I don’t want to throw it in a bin.” The idea for Project Snowman came out of a conversation over coffee with Kate Zed – an old friend who works in the TDSB in the city’s north-west and sees firsthand the needs of children in those communities.  We bonded over a shared idea that snowsuits – such an important necessity for Toronto children – are an expensive purchase, and out of many Toronto families budgets.
With our limited resources, we realised we couldn’t collect
ALL winter wear, but snowsuits felt like the right place to start.
 

2. What did you do before starting Ripple Clothes for Kids?snowsuit

I was a producer at Bell Media for almost 10 years.
 I worked on some amazing shows including Canada AM,
the 2012 Olympic Games and Discovery’s Daily Planet.
The biggest transferable skill from television – especially morning television –
to parenthood is that I’m used to “working” at all hours of the day and night!
 

3. What keeps you motivated and inspired?

The responses we get from people who hear about our initiative
is really inspiring.When we started working on Project Snowman
in late October,we thought we could convince 10 schools to sign on to help.
As of today, there are more than 20 participating schools and daycares,
as well as churches, synagogues and several businesses running
Project Snowman drives with us. Every day since we launched,
someone has surprised us with their initiative and generosity.
 

4. What is it all about?

For us, it’s about making a concrete difference in the lives of people in our community
. I don’t have the mental capacity to cure cancer or the money to sponsor a new school wing,
but I do have extra snowpants in my basement and I’d like to get them to someone
who could really use them this winter.


5. How do people get involved?

Easy! You can donate your children’s outgrown coats,
snow pants or snowsuits (size newborn to teen – PLEASE clean before donating!).
You can contribute to our Indiegogo campaign – http://igg.me/at/projectsnowman/x/12453900 
(to help purchase snowsuits). You can spread the word by liking us on Facebook, s
ending your friends an email, collecting from your neighbours and reaching out
to your brother-in-law who sells wholesale snowsuits for an in-kind donation (a long shot, but worth a try 🙂 !
 

6. Where can people donate?

More than 20 schools and daycares across the city have signed up to host PROJECT SNOWMAN drives.
We have also set up drop-off locations at businesses and private homes across the city.  
Here’s a link to our complete list of drop-offs and partner schools for a


7. When was your deadline to get things in?

December 4th
 

8. How have people in the community contributed to make this come to life?

It would have been impossible for me to have launched Ripple Clothes for Kids or Project Snowman alone.  
Project Snowman is very much a partnership between myself, Kate Zed and a core group
of moms dedicated to the campaign’s success. We also have an incredible team
of volunteers, including: My friend – an attorney on maternity leave – who VOLUNTEERED to
clean out our office washroom. Another friend – who throughout her pregnancy was a committed
Ripple volunteer (up until a week before having her son!).  She’s now 5 weeks post-partum (from a c-section!)
and asking how she can help!
My #1 driver, deliveryman and advisor in the non-profit sector is my dad – he’s simply the best.
I also have to mention Jennifer Greenberg and Michael Loewith, who are loaning us FREE storage and workspace for the length of the campaign.
 

9. Do you believe in karma and the greater good?

I do, but I think you can’t go into your doing-good activities
expecting good to come back to you.  If it does, what a fantastic bonus!

10. Can we get our kids involved in giving back this holiday season?

So many of us are looking for ways for our kids to learn about empathy and charity,
especially this time of year. Here are some ideas we put together for how kids can get
involved with Project Snowman. If you have any other suggestions, please share!
http://rippleclothesforkids.org/project-snowman/project-snowman-ideas-for-kids/
Janis also did a MILK interview. Check it out here.
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