This is James Barnett, the founder and now creative director of cyny.org or ‘Clothe your neighbor as yourself.’ At the age of 24, James sold all of his belongings and entered into a 2 year stretch of intentional homelessness in Atlanta, Georgia. After living alongside the homeless, sleeping on the streets and eating from the garbage, James helped a friend to get a pair of steel-toe boots which ultimately led to him finding employment and housing, he realised that their were no non-profit organisations that had this purpose and so CYNY was born. ‘Clothe your Neighbor as Yourself’ exists on the belief that empowerment is the key to changing a persons circumstances and uses the empowerment of clothing to change the face of poverty.
In many areas of the world, children can’t attend schools if they are unable to afford the required uniform. CYNY runs 90 day campaigns, each supporting a different region in the world and helping to provide the necessary uniforms. Right now, the Haiti Campaign aims to provide 500 school uniforms to children in Grande Pass. There are 3 options for donating to the campaign, for $27 you can provide a school uniform, for $50 you will be providing the children with school supplies and for $75 you will provide a water purification system. Every campaigner receives ‘Impact Kit’, unless you opt not to, which contains a necklace stamped with the coordinates of the children you are supporting.
I recently donated the $27 needed to provide a school uniform and the impact kit is one of my favorite aspects of the Campaign. In so many cases, when you donate money to a charity or non-profit you don’t see how your donation has helped the cause. The coordinates you are given connect with the neighborly app and you’re able to watch actual footage of the children in Haiti at school in their classrooms. It really pulls on your heart. I love that for less than the cost of a Tee or a pair of jeans, a child is getting an education which is something I know my kids take for granted.
CYNY also has an online shop filled with globally sourced, fair trade items. For me, I’ll definitely be heading back for the tee, because I love the manifesto, but I have a huge family and spend a lot of money over the course of the year on birthday and Christmas gifts. CYNY will be the source of some of those gifts, without fail.
So, next time you’re looking for a new tote bag, or even a coffee mug… think back to this post and ask yourself where you’d like to see your money going. Thanks for reading.