Homeless street store
Photo Credit: Street Store

Learners from Meridian Cosmo City – an independent school managed by Curro Holdings – spent their final day of school holidays celebrating Mandela Day in humble style.

As part of a Life Orientation project, grades 10-11 learners spent the past few months orchestrating a charity initiative to coincide with Mandela Day. Their chosen drive? The renowned Street Store.

The Street Store is the world’s first rent-free, premises-free, ‘pop-up clothing store’ for the homeless, found entirely on the street and stocked by donations.

This initiative is based on the notion that those in need can shop at The Street Store for suitable clothing items – at no cost.

“A number of Curro schools collaborated on this project, with Meridian Cosmo City being selected to host a Street Store event in order to meet the needs of the greater community. Our learners have embraced this initiative as a way to give back,” comments Judy Wearne, Meridian Cosmo City Street Store Co-ordinator and Operational Head at Curro Castle Waterfall, one of the contributing donor schools.

The pre-established Street Store initiative won favour with learners as they feel it is a concept that holds the same ethos as that of their school.

“It is the perfect initiative to help us celebrate Madiba’s attitude towards charitable giving while respecting fellow community members,” says Shawn Anza, grade 11 Meridian Cosmo City learner.

Over the past two months, learners from all grades at Meridian Cosmo City, along with support from a number of other schools in the Curro group, have combined efforts in collecting donations of clothing and other wearable items. From there, a vigorous sorting process took place, where items were separated into male, female and children categories – ready to go on display and to be relocated to a worthy wardrobe.

The day of the event began with curious Cosmo City community members gathering at the school grounds; an air of excitement and inquisitive energy emanated from the chatter.

The opening ceremony included some words of inspiration from the original Street Store co-founder, Kayli Levitan, who also commented that this was the largest Street Store that she had ever attended – both in turn out and number of donations collected.

When The Street Store opened shop, community members were assisted through the process by fellow Meridian Cosmo City learners, selecting suitable items from hangers on display. Happy shoppers on the day were elated with their new-found purchases, such as various much-needed Winter items.

Having co-founded this ‘pop-up’ street-side initiative in Cape Town in 2014, Levitan is proud in noting that the success of the initiative has been extraordinary since its inception, with more than 482 Street Stores held globally in more than 210 cities to date. It is estimated that over 1.2 million items have been donated, clothing almost half a million people in need.

“We are thrilled that The Street Store has made its way to Cosmo City. We love that people from so many different backgrounds give back in their own way, whether it’s your time, your compassion, your kindness, or just one jersey that you don’t wear anymore – it all matters, it all makes a difference” Levitan proudly comments.

For more information on The Street Store: visit www.thestreetstore.org, or follow @TheStreetStore / #TheStreetStore, #MCC2016 on Twitter, @thestreetstoreorg on Instagram, or www.facebook.com/thestreetstoreorg on Facebook.

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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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