Lending a hand for the clothing drive in Bolzano

Over 3000 volunteers from all over Southern Tyrol met on Saturday, 10th of November 2018, for a clothing drive. Our task of the day was to put together many plastic bags full of old clothes and load them into a truck. Many yellow bags from the Caritas were brought to cities like Bolzano, Bressanone, Brunico and Merano, the donations of the locals were very generous, they gave all kinds of items away : t-shirts, shoes, socks, underwear, bags, sweaters and jackets. I was also in Bolzano to help load all the donations, an European volunteer from Slovakia.

Second-hand clothing drive Bolzano, South Tyrol

Our group of local and international volunteers started the action in the early morning in the industrial zone of Bolzano. We split into smaller groups and went to the different camions that are waiting to be loaded. So work could begin right away! One of the first challenges was to get inside the truck. Since the vehicle was very high, it was not so easy to jump inside! But by helping each other, all of us finally got inside and the project could start. At first, we were only “learning by doing”. We took one bag after the other and loaded them from the smaller trucks, that brought the used clothes from each town’s donation center, into the big truck … Unload and load, load and unload….red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry….was the tongue twister of the day!

Instead of carrying one bag after the other, we developed a great system of effective work throughout the day. The solution is teamwork. We formed a human chain of volunteers throwing plastic bags full of clothes to each other. It’s faster, more effective, we can learn something and have a lot of fun at the same time! Your question might be: what can she learn by throwing bags to other people? Well…. A little German for example!

Second-hand clothing drive Bolzano, South Tyrol

With every bag I passed, I tried to learn a new German word, such as “schwer”(hard), “leicht”(easy) or a bit more abstract the months, “Kartoffel” (potatoe), “Karotte” (carrot) or “Milch” (milk)! Funnily, all the young volunteers started repeating the words after me. At first only Italian words, then German words and finally we even talked Slovak, my native language.

When our job was done and the trucks had left, all the volunteers met at an all you can eat buffet. We ate sandwiches with ham, mortadella, cheese and nutella, drank hot coffee, tea and coke. Meanwhile, huge vehicles brought the collected clothes to Verona, where they were loaded onto trains headed for Germany and the Netherlands.

~ Ivana Janikova

youngCaritas South Tyrol