Interview with Claire Roscoe of Enough Stuff
Our Beach House is proud to be hosting the Passion For Fashion Charity Sale, in support of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), on Thursday, 23 June from 5:30pm. Here we speak to Claire Roscoe, the Organiser, about the inspiration behind the event (we like to call it a designer garage sale!) and why she established the charity program, Enough Stuff.
Claire had a very different childhood compared to many kids growing up today. She was brought up in Malawi, Africa and was exposed to a great deal of poverty and consequently her parents felt uncomfortable indulging her and her siblings with a lot of material possessions. She explained: “Often for our birthdays and at Christmas, our parents would prefer to give us one gift and discuss with us how to use the rest of the money they would otherwise have spent on important local causes, such as supplies for a village down the road that had suffered from a cholera outbreak. Looking back and now having children of my own, I really understand why my parents raised us this way.”
Claire’s childhood experiences planted the seed in her subconscious for her to establish Enough Stuff, a program she designed to raise money for charities through children’s birthday parties. What cemented the concept came unexpectedly in 2010 when she was shopping for a birthday present. She described her Eureka moment: “It was 12 January 2010, and I was stuck in a traffic jam while on the way to the shop I dread more than any other – Toys R Us. My seven-year-old daughter was to attend another birthday party and I knew it was going to be another painful experience of not knowing what to buy a child who had pretty much everything she could possibly need and more and knowing that my $20 token offering wasn’t really going to buy her anything that would enhance her life. It was at that moment that my thoughts were interrupted by the terrible news that Haiti had suffered a catastrophic earthquake with more than three million people affected. My heart sank. As I walked through the aisles of Toys R Us, thinking of what was unfolding on the other side of the world, then refocusing my thoughts as to what to buy for this comparatively privileged child, it occurred to me that my children, our children, could become important and relevant parts of the charity donation process if their birthdays and the presents and money exchanged on those occasions were more thoughtfully managed.”
From this, Enough Stuff was born. The idea is simple. Instead of the usual gifts, friends invited would be asked to donate an optional cash donation to the birthday child. Half of the cash given would be used by the birthday child to buy one special, desired and fully appreciated present and the rest would be donated to a charity of their choice or better still they could operate a charity fund at their school that the students manage themselves by determining where the collective proceeds should be distributed. After a term or at the end of the school year when the funds have had time to accumulate through birthday donations, the children reach out into their community to research a charitable cause to which they wish to donate. Claire cites many benefits to the program, including educating children about the value of money, resisting consumerism and providing them with a system by which they can help those less fortunate who are living in their community. This fits neatly into the Community Action Service program many schools now have as part of their curriculum. Furthermore, Enough Stuff teaches how not having as much ‘stuff’ can have a positive impact on the environment.
Claire elaborated: “It is a win-win scenario for all those involved. There is no wasting time and fuel in traffic to purchase an unappreciated present, no feelings of guilt for the birthday child receiving an unwanted gift, no storing stuff in a cupboard never to be used and no bad feelings of having to throw it away onto a dump site having had a fruitless existence – and simultaneously our children learn about waste, about consumerism, about those who are in need and how they can help and contribute to those less fortunate.”
She feels that Enough Stuff addresses the common problem of children being overindulged with gifts. She added: “Children today are the most brand-conscious ever in history, they have their needs met and more. Why then have depression rates gone up in the younger generation? Recent studies by child psychologists conclude they have very real concerns about our future generations and the slavish following of consumerism is part of the problem. ‘The Perils of Privilege’ by Madeline Levine is an insightful read as is ‘The Blessings of skinned knees’ by Wendy Mogel. Our vision is to connect and empower the next generation to be committed to working together across all disciplines and borders, to building fairer healthier and more inclusive societies. Enough Stuff would like to impress upon kids the true value of money. I am not talking about being a minimalist or taking the fun out of birthday parties, but just having things that you really appreciate and need as opposed to stuff that never sees the light of day. I know I’m not alone – the reaction of virtually every parent I speak to is the same – they too are exasperated by the piles of waste accumulated at birthday parties and they would dearly love to change the dynamics but until now have felt stuck on the traditional conveyor belt that we have all experienced, gift giving is a part of our culture, but we can modify this. The response to the Enough Stuff concept has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Claire hopes that with this community fashion event, Passion For Fashion, she will be able to raise awareness for Enough Stuff. The sale, which will be taking place at the Ballroom at the Grand Cayman Marriott, is going to be a social gathering for all, where they are invited to browse and purchase beautiful and pre-loved clothes, shoes and accessories in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. There will be drinks and live music featuring DJ Lizzie Curious. There will also be a professional make-up artist on hand offering 15-minute makeovers. She explained: “The purpose of this event is two-fold. Not only is it about looking at your wardrobe and having a good clear out but it’s also about our community, getting together to raise money and awareness for worthy causes in our midst. People are happier when they think they are helping others.”
When asked who will benefit from the proceeds of the event, you can immediately detect the passion in her voice. She said: “All the money raised from this event is going to the NCVO. For me, the old adage “it is easier to build a strong child than it is to repair a damaged adult” has always resonated. I firmly believe that where possible a country’s resources should be prioritised to children and their needs. They are after all our future.”
The NCVO was established in 1974 and is one of Cayman’s longest standing charities. They are dedicated to the care, education and wellbeing of children and families in need of support.
The Passion For Fashion Charity Sale is taking place at our Beach House on Thursday, 23 June from 5:30 – 8.30pm. The event is free, but there will be a $10 optional donation box at registration. We hope to see you there!
Enough Stuff needs your beautiful pre-loved clothes. If you would like to donate please ensure that items are in good, clean condition.