Advice on running a gemach

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Post  Sat, Aug 08 2009, 4:19 pm
I wanted to post anon to the poster who wanted advice on opening a gemach in the Chit Chat section, but that (and the Gemachs) section is closed to anon posts. So here goes:

OK, I have a gemach (not for clothes) and I will give you the following tips (some passed on from other people before we opened it):

1. Make sure some money is involved. I presume you are giving the clothes away - make a token charge (maybe a shekel, or two for coats etc). This gives you three advantages -
a. The gemach will have some money (more on that later).
b. People will be more likely to only take what they really need, rather than Sarah taking that cute dress for a seven year old to put away for her newborn, and then when Rivka comes an hour later and has no clothes for her 7 yr old dd there is nothing left.
c. People feel better when they have paid, and less like nebachs (tell them it's to cover expenses).

2. If you have anything that needs to be returned get people to sign on it, leave a check as a deposit, and make a list of rules.

3. Make times for the gemach and stick to them. In the beginning I was nice and let people come when they asked (read: walk over me) and everyone has the most original times that are convenient for them: just when you are giving your children lunch (they are on the way back from picking their child up from gan), an hour before Shabbos (they are on the way to the mikva), ten minutes after Shabbos (they were in your town at their parents and now they are rushing back), two days before Pesach (they are going away) or at midnight (their husband just got home from learning and they didn't have a babysitter).

3. The more organized you are and the more you set rules and keep them, the more resources you will have for your gemach, the nicer it will be, and the more chessed you will ultimately be able to do.

4. As someone who has gone to clothes gemachim - make sure the clothes are folded and sorted and look nice. Throw away anything torn or stained (unless it's some fabulous dress that can easily be repaired). This is also when the money comes in - if you are getting money you can pay someone to come and do it/ help you.
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Post  Mon, Aug 10 2009, 11:06 pm
thanks, amother. I appreciate the tips.
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