AUGUST 29, 2013
Freed-Hardeman University students will collect worn tee shirts Sept. 2-12 for OutsideIN, a non-profit organization based in Troy, Tenn. Students enrolled in Dwina Willis’ Christian Woman Bible class have placed collection boxes in residence halls and in the student center.
OutsideIN workers take the clean, donated tee shirts and transform them into dresses, skirts and tunics for sale. The dresses are sold in pairs and the buyer is urged to wear one and give the other to someone who needs it. The funds generated go back to operational costs for OutsideIN.
The goal of the organization is bring women who have been marginalized by lack of education, struggles with addiction or involvement with the court system into the workplace. “Our aim is to bring outsiders into a workplace where they will be mentored and they will learn better attitudes and behaviors,” LeEllen Smith, the group’s founder, said.
The FHU class is particularly interested in collecting shirts related to Freed-Hardeman or Chester County High School, Willis said. However, they will accept any tee shirt. The goal is to have garments featuring FHU available for sale by the university’s homecoming, Nov. 9.
OutsideIN tries to use every part of the tee shirt. In addition to apparel, the group makes scrunchies and head bands with smaller pieces of fabric. They also do custom orders. “These garments are the most fun when an individual’s personal history is a part of it,” Smith said.
Willis learned about the organization when her daughter was given one of the skirts. “The skirt was so cute, and I loved the idea of young women on campus helping other women off campus develop job and interview skills,” she said. “All of us have tee shirts that we never wear. Repurposing them will clean out our closets and help others as well,” she said.
“These tee shirts are the beginning of something wonderful,” Smith said, “because we transform them into something new. It is a metaphor for what we are trying to do with these lives.”
Smith spoke to FHU’s Christian Woman Bible class Aug. 28 to introduce the non-profit and explain the project. To learn more about OutsideIN, individuals may check their website at wearoneshareone.org.