Some women may take decent undergarments for granted.
But Vicki Mitchell, a recovering drug addict, is not one of them.
When she arrived at the House of T.I.M.E. for treatment last year, she had 10 outfits, but no good bras or underwear. That’s when the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council stepped in and provided Mitchell with a Christmas package that contained lingerie she needed.
“It’s been so long since I received anything for Christmas, birthdays or anything like that,” Mitchell said. “So, once I received that, it made me feel better about myself and made my self-esteem rise a little further.”
The items Mitchell received came from a “Wear One, Bring One” program that the council held in November to collect undergarments and monetary donations for women served by United Way agencies.
On Monday, the council used the $5,115 raised at the event to launch a Women’s Undergarment Voucher Program in partnership with the Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers and JCPenney.
Through the program, female clients of United Way agencies can get a $40 voucher at the Goodwill Industries and then redeem the voucher for one bra and two pairs of underwear at JCPenney at the Peachtree Mall.
Clients are required to provide a photo ID, age, zip code, housing status and household income to receive a voucher, organizers said.
Janet Baker, chair of the Women’s Leadership Council, said the council decided to launch the program after asking United Way agencies what was their greatest need.
“Overwhelmingly, they said undergarments because a lot of people give clothes to agencies, but underwear - for privacy, health and sanitary reasons - they don’t do that,” she said. “So, now we’re able to make complete women by giving them undergarments that fit, that are theirs and that they don’t have to share with anybody. I think for confidence, for self-esteem, it’s just great.”
Baker said women in the community responded generously when asked for donations in November. They donated 517 bras and 475 pairs of underwear, which were distributed through the House of T.I.M.E., Open Door Community House, Crisis Center of Russell County and Girls Inc.
The council plans to hold another event in the fall. But for now, clients can get what they need at the mall.
“JCPenney’s has been fantastic,” Baker said. “It’s an amazing thing when corporate partners and community agencies are able to come together for a great fit.”