The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the lives of individuals globally. Lockdowns severely impacted people from lower income groups since they rely on daily wages to fulfill their basic needs. To contribute in the relief efforts, my friends and I decided to team up with GOONJ, a non-profit organziation. We arranged a collection drive, wherein people could donate essential items. These items were then distributed by GOONJ, to people who need them the most.
The COVID-19 cases were increasing locally and this was a cause for concern. Inviting people to come and contribute physically meant we had to take responsibility for their safety and ours too. We decided upon wearing wearing masks, gloves, frequently sanitizing and mainitaining social distancing throughout the drive. We labelled boxes so that it would be easier for people to drop their items and we could arrange them neatly after sanitizing.
The duration of the drive was long, about five hours. Waiting on the roadside in scorching heat while wearing face masks was difficult. We relied on our parents to drop refreshments and to check upon us.
All of the planning was done virtually. We communicated with school teachers through mails and group meetings were done by video calling. A common folder was shared so that we could add our individual tasks there. This made it more organized and allowed us to track overall progress and remind each other.
To convince people to come and donate, we strategically decided to keep the location at a well-known, easy to navigate and public but relatively empty area. It was done at a broad footpath, beside SVNIT university. We pinned hard-copies of our campaign posters at residential societies and buildings in the city. We circuled online posters via various social media sites, primarily WhatsApp (as it is commonly used). I created a form for people interested in participating, so that we would have enough data to guess the number of people that may come and what they might donate. We then made a WhatsApp group and added people who provided their contact details. This helped to keep a constant dialogue between us and participatants where we could also remind them of the details. This campaining program helped us achieve our target.
As all group members are good friends with each other, there was a level of comfort where we could openly share our opinions. There was also a consistent dialogue among us, ensuring clarity about our plan. I made sure to contribute as much as I can without worring about the input of others. Everything was mutually decided, including distribution of tasks which provided us with the chance to take initiatives and kept everyone satisfied with decisions made. All of us took leadership at some point of the process.
Majority of urban households have an excess of essential items such as clothing, food and books to the point where storage issues are a major inconvenience. For people from lower income backgrounds, these items are luxuries they can barely afford or only dream of. Collection drives aim to be the bridge that connects both ends of a society. Where one man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure. This is great for reducing wastage and exploitation of natural resources and creating a helpful and inclusive community.
Wastage is a major issue in urban areas. Due to consumerism, people buy more items than they need. When storage becomes an issue, these items are discarded. Depleting natural resources are exploited as a result. Food wastage is common in households, schools, offices and restaurants. Due to high quality standards, mass-produced foods are discarded even when they are still edible. Books and other resources are not used properly or are just thrown away. There is a huge need for foundations that Reuse and Recycle efficiently and effectively. Collection drives can also play a huge role in solving this issue.
Overall, our effort paid off! We were able to collect six large boxes of essential items such as clothes, school resources and dry ration.