Joan Clayton and Ina Andre
Windfall Clothing Service
There’s something about stepping into a brand-new skirt or putting on a new jacket that makes a person feel like a million dollars. Yet for those struck by poverty, new clothes and the upbeat feeling that accompanies them are a luxury they’re unlikely to enjoy. Friends Joan Clayton and Ina Andre, already cofounders of one of Toronto’s foremost nonprofits, Second Harvest, decided to change that after walking through a store and asking themselves a simple question: What happens to all the surplus clothing that doesn’t sell? Research shows that many of the brand-new garments end up in landfill sites.
Applying the concept behind Second Harvest—if there is a surplus that nobody wants, put it to good use—Joan and Ina started Windfall Clothing Service, a nonprofit organization that acquires new clothing and other basic-needs items and distributes them to social service agencies to alleviate poverty and foster human dignity.
At first the venture was small, with Ina and Joan making the deliveries themselves and using their dining rooms as storage space. But while they were making a drop-off at a homeless shelter, a staff member remarked, "If you give a man clean underwear, he’ll go take a shower." This comment struck home and galvanized Ina and Joan to secure start-up funding, gain support from the mayor and the media, and incorporate their new charitable organization all in less than two months. Fast forward to 2007, when over 250,000 pieces of clothing valued at over $10 million retail was processed through Windfall and distributed to the ninety-six partner social service agencies that the organization works with.
Through Windfall Clothing Service and Second Harvest, Joan’s and Ina’s work and vision have touched the lives of over one million people in Toronto. They are two truly remarkable women who saw a need and an opportunity and rose to the challenge—not only once, but twice.