Helping women starts with the heart at Windfall
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Jan 09, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Helping women starts with the heart at Windfall

Etobicoke Guardian

Want to support the causes women love by fighting poverty, advancing healthcare and supporting education? All you have to do is wear your heart on your sleeve.

Launched by Windfall Basics, an Etobicoke-based charity that distributes $28 million worth of new, brand name clothing items each year to those in need, this year’s inaugural Wear White 4 Women campaign is centered around the heart – in particular, a white heart pin that can be purchased for $5 by texting HEART to 45678, then picked up at any H&M store.

“At its core, the Wear White 4 Women campaign is all about heart – the white heart itself symbolizing purity and harmony,” said Gotstyle co-founder Seamus Clarke, who has volunteered his time and expertise to the project for Windfall. “Everybody’s got heart, and if we start there, we can spread that message out.”

By purchasing and wearing a Wear White 4 Windfall white heart pin, supporters will, in turn, gain access to online discounts of 50 to 80 per cent off select brands, as well as exclusive access to retail and entertainment events, Clarke added – a win-win-win situation for Windfall, its supporters and the participating brands.

“The idea being that every time you make a transaction, a percentage goes back to Windfall, which supports poverty, health and education initiatives...When people and brands connect with causes, you give back to community and you’ve got the ability to reach millions of people and do good, but at the same time what you’re doing is you’re building brand equity,” Clarke explained of Wear White 4 Women’s “social commerce” concept. “People will start to see these brands have heart.”

The heart doesn’t end there, though. All proceeds from this year’s inaugural campaign, added Windfall’s Executive Director Helen Harakas, go to supporting the very heart of the community – women.

“The money raised will go to support Windfall in its effort to provide 64,000 people with the basic necessities they need for their life to be lived in dignity,” she said, noting that a full two-thirds of Windfall’s clients are women. “The public often donates their used clothing to those in need, but it’s not the same. When you’re in that position that you’ve never owned anything brand new, ever, it’s magic what happens when you put on that brand new jacket and your thoughts start to shift – it’s huge. You just start to feel like you deserve something.”

As the only organization in the country that takes donations of exclusively new clothing items – from jeans from Levi’s, to winter coats from The Gap, sheets and towels from Winners, suits from Moores, and clothing items from H&M – Windfall partners with more than 100 other social service agencies in the Greater Toronto Area, distributing their clothing to more than 64,000 people living in shelters for abused women and children and for homeless men, and to new Canadians in job training programs and settlement services.

Windfall also runs a program called Suitable Impressions, an onsite program whereby participants in search of employment spend a morning at Windfall’s Connell Court offices learning interview skills and how to make a good first impression.

“Then in the afternoon they actually go and try on clothes and get to take six brand new pieces home,” Harakas said, noting that every participant goes home with a business suit, a gift bag from Revlon with shampoo, deodorant, and shaving supplies, and a free haircut from Donato Academy in Etobicoke. “That kind of job training is important, because not having a job is a core cause of poverty – and research shows that if people don’t have proper clothing and personal care items, they won’t get the job. It’s that important that you present yourself properly at an interview – almost as important as your skills and education.”

Wear White 4 Women officially launches Thursday, Jan. 10 with a TTC poster campaign featuring a veritable who’s who of local celebrity supporters – Tracy Moore (CityLine), Dina Pugliese (Breakfast Television), Jennifer Valentyne (Breakfast Television), Traci Melchor (eTalk), Roger Petersen and Kathryn Humphreys (CityNews), Maurie Sherman (KISS 92.5), and Mike Chalut (Pride FM), among many others.

How did Windfall get so much famous support? It’s a cause that sells itself, said Harakas.

“It’s a genius concept that saves government money, it saves brands money, and it links business and social services and government together, to benefit individuals in our community that need it most – women. It’s an easy cause to support,” she added, noting that everyone can support Windfall by purchasing a Wear White 4 Women white heart pin. “This heart, you wear it and you become a member of this incredible club that cares about women and cares about poverty and health and education.”

For more information on how to support Windfall, go to

To learn how to participate in the Wear White 4 Women campaign, go to


Windfall will host its semi-annual Bridal Blowout Sale on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Located in the Windfall warehouses at 29 Connell Crt. (Units 1 and 3), the sale will feature hundreds of bridal gowns from renowned designers for $200 each, plus a variety of bridesmaid, cocktail and mother-of-the-bride dresses, all for $30 each.

All money raised goes back into Windfall’s job training program.

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