Updated: May 18, 2021
We are so excited to launch our new Buy a Pair, Donate a Pair scheme with an amazing, incredibly important charity Smalls For All.
Founded in 2010 by Maria Macnamara, this Scotland based charity collect and donate underwear to children and adults in need in Africa and the UK...you know here at Martha Loves we handmake underwear so this was just a perfect fit for us! Until we found this charity, we had no idea of the importance of underwear (aside from the obvious practical needs) and the impact it had on each person who received a donation. Aside from personal donations, as a business we wanted to do whatever we could to help Smalls For All and so we put together our 'Buy a Pair, Donate a Pair' scheme.
Now with every order you place, you are able to add a pair of undies to your basket for £2.00, and they will be sent directly to Smalls For All to be donated to a child or adult in need across Africa and the UK. The undies we donate will be from our stock at Martha Loves HQ across every style and every size, both adults and childrens and this little donation changes helps people in ways our minds probably wouldn't even consider...
"We see many women and children who literally come to us with nothing. Many of the fistula patients we treat come to us wearing clothes that we have to burn because they’re so filthy. These are women who, through no fault of their own, have experienced prolonged labour, lost their babies as a result of this, and then found themselves incontinent – sometimes through both bladder and bowel (urine and faeces) They’ve had to discard much if not all of their own underwear because of the damage caused by this incontinence, and are often using matted rags in instead."
“The impact of providing underwear is far greater than just handing over something that we very much take for granted. In a similar way, distributing kids’ underwear to our orphaned boys and girls is always a fun activity. The kids love to be able to pick their favourite colours and patterns" Smalls for all has expanded to also help school uniform banks, refugee centres and charities/organisations that help the homeless.
We spoke to Smalls For All found Maria so you can find out a little bit more about this amazing charity!
Tell us a little about you...
Smalls for All® is a small charity based in West Calder, Scotland, that collects and distributes underwear to people in Africa and the UK who can’t afford or can’t get any. It was set up in 2010 following a series of trips to orphanages in Africa where I worked as a volunteer.
Why did you start Smalls For All?
Each volunteer trip was a huge learning experience for me and holds lots of memories, not all good. When I first visited Ethiopia I stayed with a host family and worked in an orphanage. I met a little girl called Elsa who was clearly very ill. Like many people would, I felt a real need to take action, perhaps pay for a doctor or even bring her back home for medical attention. I discussed this with one of the sisters but she told me a doctor had seen Elsa and said she would ‘expire on the operating table’. So she just lay there waiting to die. Each day I would go to work, wondering if she would still be there.
When I got home I was always very aware that following my trips, I’d left behind many children who had got used to me and come to rely on me. I was very worried that perhaps I was doing more harm than good by spending two to three weeks with them, then leaving for home. So I realised I needed to do something more sustainable that would have longer-term benefits.
Then I remembered about the lack of underwear and the problems this can cause. It’s a health and hygiene problem for many poor African communities, as women often only own one pair of tattered pants or have none at all. It’s also a matter of dignity.
And that’s how Smalls came to life as a registered charity: to help adults and children in Africa by providing them with underwear they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. And in 2019, we changed our constitution to also support those in the UK who have a need for underwear.
Do you have a story about your charity and how you've helped someone?
We charted the story of a pair of pants we received following a special appeal for ladies’ black full, mini, midi and high leg pants in sizes 8-12.
Mairi from Clovenfords spotted our appeal and kindly popped an extra pack into her basket when she was out shopping. “I’d never even thought about not having knickers,” she said. “Something so fundamental and that we all just take for granted.”
This particular appeal was to help us fulfil a couple of orders, one of which was from the Tumaini Fund, a charity that supports HIV/AIDs widows and orphans in Kagera region of Tanzania. Tracy collected the donations
from us on behalf of the Fund – including the pack sent by Mairi.
“[I was] Delighted to collect hundreds of pants for our sustainable hygiene kits,” Tracy said. “Each kit lasts a girl 3 years, buying back over 180 days of education and restoring dignity and freedom.” She then set off with them on their 5,000 mile journey and attended 3 different distributions of kits to orphans in Kagera, northwest Tanzania.
A social worker helped Tracy demonstrate the kits to girls at Kirusha secondary school in Ngara, Kagera, and a girl called Joyce received the kit containing pants Mairi had donated. “Now I can go to school every day, just like the boys!” she said. That’s why we do what we do!
Who does Smalls For All help?
We help people of all ages in Africa and the UK.
In Africa, we help those living in orphanages, slums, IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and schools, as well as those in hospitals suffering from medical conditions like obstetric fistula. We also help charities that focus on alleviating poverty in the UK.
Underwear is something most of us take for granted, but for many people, particularly in poor and/or remote communities, that isn’t the case. Some can’t afford it. Others simply don’t have access to it.
Why is it important to donate underwear?
Giving pants and bras may seem like a small thing, but it can make a life-changing difference. For example, many teenage girls miss out on valuable days of schooling each month, and women miss days of work, because having no pants means they're forced to stay at home during their period. Men need pants too of course, with requests coming from, for example, homeless charities in the UK and hospitals in Africa. So every pair of brand new pants we receive is guaranteed to help give someone back their dignity at the very least.
How else can we help Smalls For All?
We collect only NEW pants plus new and gently worn bras – we don’t collect any other types of clothing or underclothing. Any financial donations are very welcome as they help with our running costs, and that allows us to continue to do what we do. But there are other ways people can help too. For example, by collecting underwear or fundraising for us. Another great way people can help – for free – is by doing their online shopping through Easyfundraising or AmazonSmile, choosing Smalls for All as their charity. Both organisations donate a small amount to Smalls for every purchase made, at no extra cost to them. Check out how you can help here!
There are so many people in need of undies!! And we are making it even easier for this to happen. When you're ready to place your order, simply click on your shopping bag, click the button at the top that says 'Donate a Pair' and add the item to your bag. When we are handmaking your order at our HQ in North Wales, we will make up an extra pair to donate to Smalls For All. You can find out what happens to your donated pairs once we've posted them to the Pantagon at Smalls For All here!
Thank you to Maria and all of the Smalls For All team for doing what you are doing. Look out for our Martha Loves undies heading your way!
Find out all information about Smalls For All here at www.smallsforall.org