Your Old Clothes Can Help Malala Send Girls to School

Upcycling shirts and pants can help women around the world get the education they deserve.
May 4, 2016· 2 MIN READ
Alex Reed is an editorial intern at TakePart and a senior at the University of Southern California.

It’s the time of year when the nation’s college students are packing up their wardrobes for the summer—and when the rest of America is combing through their closets to see which pants, skirts, or shirts are out of style. That’s why Schoola and the Malala Fund, along with the program Students Stand #WithMalala, are again encouraging people to contribute to “Pass the Bag,” an effort that collects and sells donated clothing to raise money for women’s education.

The “Pass the Bag” campaign launched in September, when Schoola, a San Francisco–based clothing-donation program, teamed up with the Malala Fund, founded by girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. The campaign raises money for women’s education by producing Malala-themed shipping bags that can be filled with used clothing. As seen in the video above, the bags, which include prepaid postage, can then be sent to Schoola, which sells the clothing online and gives 40 percent of the proceeds to the Malala Fund.

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DeLacy Ganley, director of the Teacher Education Program at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, thought the students on the Claremont Colleges’ seven campuses would be prime candidates to fill bags with clothing as they packed up their dorms and apartments for summer vacation.

“The idea was that these guys often don’t want to take everything home, or they’ve outgrown things throughout the year, or fashions have changed,” Ganley told TakePart.

To get the bags in the right hands, Ganley enlisted her 12-year-old daughter’s Girl Scout troop and other local troops. From now until mid-May, each of the troops will canvas a Claremont college.

The way Ganley sees it, the program benefits both the Malala Fund (and young women seeking education around the world) and members of the Girl Scouts, who are learning about the inequities of global education and how they can change them.

More than 60 million young women around the world are unable to attend school for reasons ranging from having to work and take care of family to being prevented by violence in their countries. Since 2009, Yousafzai has worked to change that by being a vocal advocate for ensuring every girl receives a free and safe education.

“It’s hard to spend time with that unbelievably compelling and extraordinary young woman without figuring out a way to put all of your energy into getting behind what she’s doing,” Stacey Boyd, founder of Schoola, told TakePart.

Since the initiative’s launch, more than 3,000 bags of clothing have been turned in, and more than $189,000 has gone to the Malala Fund. But there’s still more to be done.

“It’s very important for girls to do community-based work that means something to them,” Ganley said, adding that nearly everyone in her daughter’s troop read Yousafzai’s best-selling book, I Am Malala.

Ganley’s department at CGU and her daughter’s troop will also distribute bags at a cohosted screening of He Named Me Malala on the Claremont campus on June 17. The film will be followed by a discussion about Yousafzai’s impact on and the importance of global education for women. (Disclosure: He Named Me Malala was produced in part by TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media.)

“My program has as its core mission the ideals of social justice—that education is a civil liberty and that everybody deserves quality education,” Ganley said. “Being able to support equity in global issues is something that is near and dear to my heart.”

Request your postage-paid bags for clothing donations here.