Charity Thread Together is giving a helping hand to town, providing the Cootamundra community with free clothes to help those facing hardships since the devastating floods.

The not-for-profit charity is responsible for accepting excess end-of-line, new clothing, shoes and accessories from designers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers then redistributing it through a network of charities and social service agencies to Australians in need.

The charity was founded in 2012 by Andie Halas, when she was working for a lifestyle fashion house.

Andie was critical of the amount of clothing being tossed into landfills, believing there was a more ethical or sustainable option and found a way to redistribute the clothing to those in need.

Ten years later, Thread Together is clothing up to 2,500 people each week and supports hundreds of charities – from Anglicare, St Vincent de Paul, and The Salvation Army.

Presently there are over 1000 fashion partners who have recovered over 2.5 million pieces of clothing from landfill.

Fashion partners include a diverse mix of retailers including Aje, Bec & Bridge, P.E Nation and Calvin Klein Jeans as well as, David Jones, Havaianas, Bendon, The Iconic, Retail Apparel Group and Zimmermann. Andie Halas said, “Our model is very simple.

We collect end-of-line brand stock from clothing providers. With the support of volunteers, the clothes are sorted by age, gender, and purpose, and then redistributed to people in need through charities and social service agencies across Australia.

I think of it as redistributive justice,” Ross Mitchell of Thread Together talked to the Times about bringing the charity to Cootamundra.

“As the flood crisis was unfolding, we did our best to make contact with the areas that were most affected and we’re a national organisation so we were spreading our wings between New South Wales and Victoria,” he said.

“Charlie Sheahan, the Mayor, responded to us very quickly, reaching out and letting us know that there was a great need in Cootamundra for many floods affected families that lost everything.

“We dispatched our mobile wardrobes that we put on the vans that are fitted out like a wardrobe. We filled those with clothing and dispatched two of those down into Cootamundra and met with Charlie.

“He reached out to the lovely volunteers of the Red Cross store and asked for their assistance. In a very short time, there was a local resident that owns one of the shops who donated the space for us to set up a clothing hub.”

Charlie Sheahan was proud to announce the support hub opening up in the town. “They’re supplying us with some new clothing for people who have been impacted by the floods and Helen Eccleston through the Red Cross is going to coordinate it all,” he said.

“It’s ongoing on the Main Street between Vinny’s and Baileyana.” Ross Mitchel says Thread Together will stay for as long as needed.

“Our intention is to offer support for as long as required,” he said.

“To give you an example, we were involved in Lismore for just under six months with a clothing hub in their flood recovery centre and then we were continuing on to service the community with our mobile wardrobe.

“We run both corporate volunteering programmes and community volunteering programmes in our warehouses.

“It’s a six-day operation and when we’re selecting what goes out to community, it’s based on the experience that we’ve received elsewhere that tells us what the essentials are, the underwear, socks, shorts, T shirts, dresses, women’s active wear as the minimum items to fill a wardrobe.

“The fashion industry is very supportive, we put a call out to let them know that we’re responding to the floods and we’ve had a lot of positive responses from the industry to pass on their excess stock.

There’s a lot of support available. “We would expect that right now when we’re part of the recovery stage, and so we’re aware that there’s greater priorities for those families at the moment to look after their housing and we’re there to help them rebuild a wardrobe of brand-new clothing so we would anticipate to get busier as time progresses.”

The clothing available is all absolutely free of charge.

Jack Murray