While serving as the 2012-2013 president of Fashion Focus, I wanted to make sure that our club would have the opportunity to take part in a very special project that is very dear to my heart. My love of fashion plays such a huge part in my life, I’ve chosen to base my career around it so I can share my passion for style with others. And by default, I am an avid collector of beautiful things, and I wasn’t the only member of Fashion Focus who finds herself buried alive in clothes with an overflowing walk-in closet, or dorm for that matter. We could definitely work with that!
Fortunately, I knew of an organization that would be the perfect fit for Fashion Focus as well as a solution to my overflowing closet, “Share What You Wear.” “Share What You Wear,” is a non-profit charity program at Orange High School which began after Orange High School Students Zoe Baris and Samantha Zabell volunteered at the National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland Designer Dress Days. Zoe and Samantha were inspired to do something meaningful and helpful for others. Zoe and Samantha decided that donating their new and gently worn clothing for children from newborn to age 18 would fill an important need for kinship families in the Cleveland community. Six years later, Zoe and Samantha have done just that, leaving an even bigger legacy which continues to grow each and every year. Samantha and Zoe are truly girls after my own heart. To Zoe, what is most rewarding about this experience has been “to see my vision turn into something that has surpassed my wildest expectations, from collecting tens of thousands of items to helping thousands of children and getting the entire community involved, it has truly been a dream,” she says.
After the collection of the clothing throughout the school year, the “Share What You Wear” event in August is hosted with the help of student volunteers. This event gives local families in need and (the children in their care) a chance to experience what can easily be described as a “dream” shopping trip. Back to school shopping was (secretly) a favorite part of my childhood and almost something to have easily taken for granted. Over the years “Share What You Wear” has continued to evolve. Zoe explains, “It started out in a barn where each child was allowed a certain number of items that were “bought” with Share What You Wear bucks, to now allowing each child to leave with unlimited amounts of anything they want. The first 4 years the items were organized in my basement until the final August event, and now everything is housed in a warehouse provided by NCJW to accommodate all of the clothes, a result of the incredible involvement of the community.”
Zoe and the legacy of “Share What You Wear” have a bright future ahead of them. So what does the future hold for “SWYW” and co-founder Zoe Baris? Zoe assures us that “the future is so bright and endless for SWYW.” According to Zoe, the success of SWYW will continue for years to come because “There is no limit to the amount of people it can help and the amount of good it brings to the community.” As far as Zoe, her future is just as bright. Zoe reveals, “I plan on using the same skills that I have built upon since SWYW; my creativity, entrepreneurial skills, my background in business, and my desire to give back to create an amazing future. I have one semester left in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and I plan on learning as much as I can and meeting as many people I can to help me fulfill my dreams.”
This year, Orange High School Senior, Jordan Davis took charge and helped organize the 2013 “Share What You Wear” event. (Click here to read about Jordan’s successful clothing drive at Orange High School). As a 2009 graduate of Orange High School myself and a native of Pepper Pike, Ohio, there was no hesitation for me to ask how Fashion Focus and I could help!
Fashion Focus was able to organize a campus wide clothing driving starting on April 1st, ending the last week of classes. We also were able to lend a hand to help Jordan fold, sort, and box the clothing for pickup, and help set up for distribution event this week at the Tudor Arms Double Tree hotel. And the rewards of this experience are endless. It’s such an amazing feeling to have contributed to this amazing program and to see the end result of Zoe and Jordan’s hard work. I feel so lucky to gotten to know these incredible friends of mine. <3 SO PROUD!
Want to learn more about Zoe Baris and Share What You Wear? Click below to view a collection of articles