Emirates Red Crescent volunteers prepare care packages for those in need

New Emirates Red Crescent project aims to bring grace to charity.
Clothes donated to charity are selected and labelled at an Emirates Red Crescent building in Mussaffah. Irene Garcia Leon / The National
Clothes donated to charity are selected and labelled at an Emirates Red Crescent building in Mussaffah. Irene Garcia Leon / The National

ABU DHABI // On the ground floor of a two-storey building in Mussaffah, about a dozen women sit at desks, closely inspecting and sorting through piles of clothes. Even the smallest stains are detected and clothes are cast aside as unsuitable.

Manal Salim, a supervisor, holds up what looks like a perfect purple T-shirt.

“No,” she says. “This looks all faded and you wouldn’t wear it.”

The shirt joins countless others in a pile.

The items that have passed the scrupulous inspections are folded, sealed in plastic, marked with the size and placed in large, labelled cabinets that fill a corner of the workspace.

In a few days, the clothes will be packed into a lorry and sent to people in need as part of the Hefz Al Nema, or saving grace, charity project administered by the Emirates Red Crescent.

“When donating, always think, ‘would I wear this?’,” says Sultan Al Shehi, the head of the charity projects department at the office of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region. “If it’s good enough for you, then it’s good enough for others. There is an etiquette to donating. The clothes should be in good condition, clean and even perfumed.”

Clothes deemed unfit to be given away are sent to factories for resale. Those that require only cleaning are sent to a laundry.

“Donation shouldn’t be about giving away what is old,” says Mr Al Shehi. “We need to change this mindset. It isn’t right. This donation goes to God before it goes to the poor.”

This culture is needed and while the UAE is “known for being one of the most charitable countries in the world, it is lacking”.

“To donate what is important to you, not what you don’t need or what is old. Yes, the poor will take it anyway because they are in need, but why don’t we be more civilised then that?”

Ms Salim calls on those in need and asks what size they wear, their favourite colours and their specific needs. “We have requests for different things, such as blankets, abayas, dresses and kanduras. We try to make sure that we send them what they want.”

On the second floor of the building there are wedding gowns and fancy dresses. The gowns are loaned to brides-to-be.

“Brides will be given a wedding dress of their choice on loan and a gift with them. They can even come here and try the dresses on,” says Ms Salim.

The gifts are usually perfumes, accessories and other dresses.

“Most of these brides are orphans, so we try to give them everything they need. Help them furnish their house and so on.”

Six wedding dresses have been sent to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Clothes to be delivered within the UAE are packaged in gold boxes that carry no signs or logos.

“It is important for us that these feel like gifts and don’t have the Red Crescent logos,” says Mr Al Shehi. “The delivery lorries also have no signs on them.”

The Emirates Red Crescent logo is only on boxes shipped abroad.

Last year 1,326 families in the UAE received these parcels, amounting to more than three tonnes of clothes.

Mr Al Shehi also plans to launch electronic donation boxes inside buildings. These will have electronic screens with awareness messages.

“We are still in the initial stages, but we hope to have these in every building. It is cleaner and offers easier access for residents.”

He says the receptacles will be sealed, and will sound an alarm when they are full.

“We will have a lorry pass by and unload them. There will also be options for different categories, such as shoes, blankets and clothes.”

The programme also sends food packages, home appliances and furniture.

Those who want to donate can call the toll-free number 800 5011, or 050 906 8204.

“Our service is door to door,” says Mr Al Shehi. “A lorry will come and pick up the donation, and then deliver it to the doors of people in need.”


Published: February 23, 2015 04:00 AM


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