Sharing clothes sheer brilliance

HELPING HANDS: Care, Share and Wear founder Linda Cook and her nephew Jake Hill, 3, with a bundle of clothes donated for Taranaki children.
HELPING HANDS: Care, Share and Wear founder Linda Cook and her nephew Jake Hill, 3, with a bundle of clothes donated for Taranaki children.

Taranaki's Robin Hood of clothing has become a victim of her own success.

New Plymouth nurse Linda Cook founded Care, Share and Wear last September. In just over a year it has clothed more than 350 Taranaki school children.

The concept has taken off in Christchurch and Auckland since Ms Cook's idea originally featured in the Taranaki Daily News and this week Wellington is starting its first collections.

It works by organising high-decile schools to hold a week-long clothing collection where children bring any pre-loved clothes to school in the knowledge they will be given to families struggling to provide their own.

Ms Cook says it's the generosity and support of the community that has kept the momentum of the project going.

Seeing New Plymouth school children poorly-dressed in wintry conditions last year prompted Ms Cook to do something to help.

She says seeing Wellington get the project off the ground is particularly pleasing.

With the help of her three sisters, mum and a friend, Ms Cook collects, washes, mends, bags and delivers clothes to children in need throughout the province.

"We've completely outgrown my sister's garage and have found bigger premises which have ideal parking and access for loading clothes and is central and secure," she said.

A pledge fund has been started online to raise the $1000 needed to cover the costs of kitting the garage out with shelves and flooring.

Ms Cook has till the end of next week to reach the target of $1000 or they don't receive any of the money.

"Wellington did the same thing and set a target of $1500 to get themselves going and ended up raising $1800 so I would like to think Taranaki can beat them."

Ms Cook says the group would like to raise enough money to purchase a van for collections because at times they are taking two cars and doing two loads just to collect from one school.

"An idea of how much we've grown is last year we went to a school that asked for 15 orders and this year we went back and they asked for 54 orders," she said.

Care, Share and Wear has expanded beyond anything Ms Cook said she ever visualised.

"We now have people giving us newborn baby clothes, bedding and toys so we're able to give so much more," she said. "The sad thing about how much this has accelerated is that it highlights a real need in the community."

Ms Cook and her team also have a close relationship with Women's Refuge and act as a drop off point for clothes and then deliver as much as they can to the safe house when there are families in need.

Anyone wanting to donate to Care, Share and Wear can go online to

Taranaki Daily News