It feels like the need to give back is even more expansive this year. Perhaps it has to do with the president, maybe it was the myriad of natural disasters – in either the case, this year was wild and the need to get outside of myself and give back to others didn’t end with just moi. Nearly all of our friends, collaborators, and allies felt the same. When it came time to conceptualize this Grit Girl Hike, an outdoor adventure meet-up created in collaboration with Richer Poorer, we wanted to create an experience that left our attendees inspired and ready to commit to their own activism deeper. Hosted by Los Angeles-based creative Becky Bunz, this fifth and final hike focused on paying it forward.
We took to the east side of Los Angeles to lace up our Aldo sneaks and hit a sunset hike at Elysian Park. Afterwards, we went to a nearby residence for a gifting soiree – but probably not the kind you’re thinking. Functioning as a charity drive directly benefiting the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row, we called on some help from our beloved brand collaborators. Donning some of Richer Poorer’s newest releases – the Boxy Crop T, Crew Sweatshirt, and Sweatpants, we got to work.
Juniper Ridge, Rudy’s Barbershop, Brixton, Cora Tampons, Pointe Studio and Richer Poorer banded together to assist us in providing luxurious yet useful necessities like body wash, shower bombs, cozy socks and the softest cotton t-shirts known to human kind. We gathered a myriad of personal hygiene supplies from the dollar store, filling wicker baskets with toothbrushes, toothpaste, pads – all the little details that a woman needs to get through the day. Creating a makeshift assembly line atop a rustic picnic table in the back patio of our event space, we educated our attendees about homelessness in Los Angeles and then invited them to create a care package.
Currently, there are about 58,000 homeless people living in Los Angeles. The Downtown Women’s Center – which is a permanent supportive housing center that also has a day center open to the public – does incredible work to combat Los Angeles’ massive homeless issue. 95% of the women they serve remain permanently housed.
When creating this event, I realized how simple it is to give back in your own community. In fact, when creating a care package workshop like this, I was inspired to share with others how one can make an activation like this come to life.
The first step is to identify an organization that you love with a mission that you stand behind. Make sure to contact them beforehand to ensure there is no red tape around what sorts of products you can donate. Chat about when is an ideal time for you to drop off the care packages and what their drop-off procedure looks like. For example, are you planning to neatly wrap every package but will the organization actually need to go through the contents of each donation package? Does the organization find that their residents actually need pads far more than they need tampons? These were the kind of things I learned while putting together this charity drive and I’d be shocked if you didn’t discover surprising facts along the way on your own journey!
Now onto getting the goods to gift. The key is to reach out to allies in your circle that may be interested in donating product. If you don’t know any self-care oriented companies personally, head on over to their websites and hit that contact page. You’d be surprised at how many companies are keen to donate product. When it comes to those items you can’t get donated, you can either request that each attendee bring multiple units of the product (for example, we asked our attendees to bring canvas tote bags and pads). Also, another major key is to feed your guests. Splurge on some salads from Sweetgreen or cop a few pizzas from a local eatery like Pizzanista. If you want to keep the costs low, opt for a potluck – it could even be as simple as drinks and appetizers.
Be prepared to educate your attendees about IRL volunteer initiatives, too! They will want to know how they can further their service and it is always good to have a quick link for them to hit when they inquire. Speaking of – those of you who are based in Los Angeles, be sure to take a peek at the Downtown Women’s Center volunteer opportunities here! If you are unable to commit to volunteering but still would like to support the organization, check out other opportunities here.