This past weekend at my kids’ elementary school we held our 6th annual back-to-school clothes and book swap. It”s a rather amazing event that grew out of a similar swap we attended years ago at Austin Maker Faire 

We have sewing stations and amazing screen printing arranged by parent and art teacher Andrea Fiore - where folks can get their new duds redone with some fine imagery like hearts and stars and monkey faces. It not only freshens up an old garment, but it states to the world forever more, “yup, I got this at the swap.”

There are volunteers galore: sorting, sewing, screen printing all so that the swap runs like a very well oiled machine. Thanks everybody for all your hard work!!! Without you this would not be possible.

The only rules of our swap are “Bring what you can. Take what you need.”  There is no minimum to bring or maximum to take. There are no rules about tit for tat or any of that. There are no admission fees or print fees. There is a tip jar for those that can and for those that can’t, no problem.

After the swap we get so many notes from attendees stating how they got clothes and books for their entire family and shoes and accessories and how, in addition, they also had a really, really fun time. One of the many bonuses. Another sentiment heard quite often, “It was such a relief to clear out all that stuff we were no longer using.”

At the end there is so much left over and we donate it all to various charities – this year Goodwill was the winner when they volunteered to have a truck arrive at the end and pick up every last little bit.  It is a definite lesson in abundance: there really is so much.  And if we all bring what we can and take what we need, there is really, more than enough for us all.

It’s a great day. With great results. And I highly recommend it for your own community. If you want to know how to get started, there’s a tutorial here, on how to do it. Easy. Fun. Community building. And clothes for the whole family.