Without a doubt one of the questions we field most frequently on here and Instagram from readers is: "where can I donate my clothes?" or "I want to become a minimalist, but what do I do with all the stuff I have?"
We're grateful for these questions because, surprisingly, all donation routes are not created equal. Certain companies' clothing donations sit in large piles, untouched for years, never getting into the hands of those who need them. That's why we're big advocates of donating when you find a pressing opportunity to give your things a second life. Maybe you come across a refugee program that's in dire need of sweaters and warm socks, or maybe there's a school that needs calculators and pens and pencils. Whatever the case may be, it's a lot more fulfilling (and environmentally friendly) to donate to a cause that isn't just a catch-all, but actually has specifics needs that need filling. Of course, any form of donation is amazing and commendable, but we happen to think this targeted-kind is just a bit of a step up.
About two weeks ago now, we had the opportunity to do some photographic work for the children of the Jodie O'Shea House here in Bali. Really, we think it should be called the Jodie O'Shea Home, because that's truly what it is, a home where children who have been orphaned for a wide range of reasons grow up in a family of over sixty other kids, loving staff members, and volunteers from around the world. The age range is wide (when we got there, we peered into the "nap room" where about a dozen two and three year olds were curled up with their favorite stuffed animals and my heart just about melted) and the gender tilts slightly in the boys favor. In the grounds there's a jungle gym, miniature turf soccer field, tons of outdoor space, a garden, a music room where kids who've expressed an interest take private guitar and piano lessons, a dining hall filled with colorful picnic tables, and dormitories for the different age ranges.
We got there just as the kids were getting home from school and the level of respect they had for the adults who care for them and the degree to which they felt at home were immediately obvious. In Bali, it's a sign of respect to take the hand of an elder and press it to your forehead as a greeting, and each kid wandered their way through the whole orphanage as soon as they were home from school to do just that to almost every single staff member. Soon there was a soccer game going on with one group and a monopoly game with another, coloring over here, and monkey bar climbing over there. One of the coolest things was seeing how the kids didn't really split up into groups based on age range but based on interest, and it was obvious how younger kids looked up to older ones and wanted to seem "cool" in their eyes. It was equally obvious that certain kids had bonded, a twelve year old boy could be seen toting around a three year old girl, and for some reason I just found that heartwarming....
Porter and I have been wanting to take advantage of more service opportunities in our travels for awhile now (we actually have some big news in the coming weeks on that topic!), and getting to go to Jodie O'Shea's house definitely made that desire even more urgent for us. It's funny, you think traveling the world you would meet so many people and spend so much time interacting with locals and all that, but in reality, a lot of your interactions are fleeting, and it's fun and a relief to spend an entire day getting to know a big group and to feel all those "community" feelings that, to be totally honest, we've desperately missed at different points in this past year. It was a good day, a really, really good day, one which left Port and I looking at each other saying, let's do more of that, investing in others, engaging in educational experiences, and stretching ourselves. At one point a little girl asked me my name only to tap me on the shoulder a half hour later with a drawing of the two of us and a "Dear Anna, I love you Love, Diva" (her name was quite literally, Diva) that I will now keep forever. That's the good stuff.
Really, I didn't want to share these photos so much to talk about our experience at Jodie O'Shea's, but to provide all those who have reached out to us in the past year with the questions I mentioned in the first bit of this blog post with an opportunity to make a targeted donation. I know most twenty-somethings still have heaps on heaps of clothing at their parents' homes (or even in their own apartments) they're kind of just holding onto for no reason. These kids would definitely put all those barely worn t-shirts and warm-up pants and cleats and sneakers and sandals to good use. Also, if you have board games (they need a new Monopoly board!) laying around or toys (I'm convinced that every boy (or girl!) has a meter by meter box of Legos or Playmobiles stashed somewhere at their parents' house) send them their way! Shipping obviously costs money, but it's a small act that has the opportunity to do a lot of good.
^ Absolutely convinced there's nothing more attractive than seeing your husband involved in any kind of act of service (or playing games with kids!).
Musical instruments or new crayons and colored pencils and coloring books are another thing we noticed they might need some more of. I know a lot of kids who had the habit of "picking up" an instrument that their parents then invested a lot into, only to drop it a few months later (...guilty). These kids would definitely love to have whatever instrument you were at one point convinced you would play at Carnegie Hall. You never got there, but one of them might.
We'll put the address below for any of you who decide to get involved, but definitely don't want this to read as a call to action so much as a "hey, weren't you trying to get rid of that stuff but looking for a purpose - what about this?" Sometimes life gets busy and you forget to look for these opportunities, so we're throwing one in your lap instead. Also - if you're ever in Bali and looking for a service opportunity or even looking for volunteer work for a certain number of months, this is such an incredible spot to do so. We really are looking forward to highlighting as many opportunities for people to get involved in enriching, selfless, international experiences as possible in the next year ahead, and man oh man is this a good one!
Anna Lisa & Porter
Jodie O'Shea House Jalan Pulo Moyo - Gang Telkom II Pedungan Denpasar Selatan - Bali 80222 Indonesia