Pop Up Love

Nearly the end of March… I wake again to the drumming of rain on the roof… My heart sinks… Brisbane has been promised a dry day… a reprieve, a time to clean and clear and start again for weary folk. Folk who have spent too many days dealing with water, mud, loss, frustration and disappointment.

The Thread Together Pop Up Clothing Hub in Indooroopilly was launched in response to the need of those suffering from inundation in Brisbane. It is operating out of our local church, St Andrews’ Undercroft (for a limited period.) 

The word is getting around that an abundance of brand new clothing and footwear can be found… No, you don’t need a voucher… yes, everything is free… help yourself… would you like a cup of tea?

I am working at the Clothing Hub as a volunteer today.

Even before I arrive, I notice a buzz… Through the door there is an ordered, welcoming space. There are racks and racks of colour… towering boxes of footwear… shirts for every shape and size… bright florals and fringes, checks and stripes… and underwear neatly sorted… (so much underwear!) There are the smiling faces of the other volunteers. 

A family has already arrived. They converse in a language foreign to me as they hold T-shirts and hoodies up to each others chests to check for size. Mother choses baby clothes for a little one to come. Grandmother holds a toddler on one hip as she flicks through the racks. Can I take some shirts for my husband? (of course!). They leave with their choices and ask if they can return? (of course!). Thank you! Thank you!

Another client quietly relates how she was away from Brisbane when the water rose…. Everything went under… very little was saved, everything covered in mud…. Do you have men’s clothes? Children’s? Something for me? She is tired, she is depleted. Some bags of clothing will help, but there is so much strain on her face.

Another client… he is interested in some new clothes, but more interested in a chat… a cup of tea…. A few more clothes… can we give you some lunch? A listening ear is what is more important… don’t mind the language… we don’t judge. Can you drop these off at my place? I am too tired to carry them… (of course)

She bursts into tears as soon as she arrives… Deep breath. She quietly collects clothes for her family… no smiles. We volunteers hover – offer suggestions. She phones her husband for shoe sizes…. Finds a good selection of clothing – so many bags… but how to replace all that was lost? It wasn’t just clothing… Thank you, thank you. The tears are still not far away.

“Would you like a bag?”. It is a great way for volunteers to welcome the clients that come through the door…. A large, new, crisp brown paper bag… “You are welcome to take whatever you can use… And we have more bags if you need them”. There is a spirit of generosity in this place… The beautiful new clothes are entirely free – free of cost, free of judgement, free of hidden agendas… There is love here. God is here.


Wendy Chenoweth

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