By Sam Rawson
From Nike to Prada, we live in a society that is obsessed with fashion brands and the prestige and status attached to them. But four university students and an idea is all it took to start a new brand called Suns and Daughters and the beginnings of what could become a counter-cultural movement. We hope! Read more…
During church one cold April evening, 20-year-old UCT medical student and self-proclaimed ‘hoodie’ lover, Sarah Burton, had an idea. What if there was a project that sold hoodies where for every hoodie bought an identical one was also paid for and given to someone in need? This way dozens and possibly hundreds of people across Cape Town could be made to feel loved and respected by simply blessing them with a new item of good quality warm clothing. After all, doesn’t it say in the Gospel that “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none” (Luke 3:11 NIV)?
Sitting around the kitchen table later that evening, she bounced the idea off her close friends and fellow students, Claire Brayshay, Kate Ord and Samantha Beningfield. “As a group we’ve often shared stories of people we’ve met living in extreme poverty and discussed how we should respond as Christ-followers in these situations,” Clare explains. “It’s really been something on our hearts for a while so when I told the girls about my idea they were all super enthusiastic and keen to be involved. That same night we started sending emails to find out who else could help us!”
Within a week they’d launched a Facebook page that grew to over 300 fans in under three days all wanting to support the project in some way. Drawing from their social capital, they soon got on board fellow Common Grounders Nick Mills, a graphic designer, and Shaun Couves, owner of Toit clothing, to help them with the design and production of the hoodies. Six months later and 102 people are now the proud owners of Suns and Daughters hoodies.
Fifty-one of these were given as gifts to people living on the streets, in shelters, and in homes for the previously disadvantaged. Attached to each one was a personalised message from the person who’d bought it with encouraging words and blessings.
“One of the most moving moments for me was when we gave a hoodie to Melissa, a lady I’d developed a friendship with after meeting her begging outside the Rondebosch Pick n Pay with her four-year-old daughter,” says Sarah. “She was really emotional after reading her note and confessed to us that this was the first gift she’d ever received.”
“This whole process has been such a learning experience for all of us,” explains Sam. “We’ve learnt that giving someone something might make you feel better but that it isn’t going to drastically change their circumstances. We hope that the hoodies will become a bridge to create conversations between two people who might otherwise have had nothing in common and be the spark that starts a friendship.”
So what advice do the girls have for those of us wanting to respond but unsure of how or where to start? “Students often don’t have a huge amount to give away but what we do have is the time to be socially proactive,” suggests Sam. “The hoodie project has been a great conversation starter and a way to chat about why we’re doing this and Christ’s heart for the poor.”
The challenge to all of us is clear. Regardless of what season of life we’re in, we can all do something to shine Christ’s love into someone else’s life. It can start by simply noticing the person you walk or drive past every day. By having a conversation. By learning their name. By showing them that they’re loved and valued regardless of what they’re wearing or their present circumstance.
For more info on Suns and Daughters and what they’re up to next, visit their blogwww.sunsanddaughters.wordpress.com.
|Suns and Daughters (Sarah far right) hand over a hoodie to Euphonia at the Liesbeek/N2 robots||Sam (left) with Theresa at the Campground /Liesbeek robot||
The Suns and Daughters crew with the guys from Beth Uriel after giving them each a hoodie