A community fridge stocked with food items is not a new concept in Chennai. Here’s a similar initiative, but with one difference. It is clothes instead of food. On a small lane off Jawaharlal Nehru (J.N) Main Road in Ekkatuthangal, along the Cooum river, a kiosk maintained by residents is drawing many people as it allows them to choose clothes of their size.
Residents from the neighbouring streets have been donating used clothes to the outlet on a regular basis. A few autorickshaw drivers keep an eye on the free facility to ensure it is not vandalised.
“The free used clothes outlet is not maintained by a person or a group of residents. Instead, it is an initiative where anyone can drop their used clothes on the racks to help the needy,” says K. Ramesh, a resident of Ekkatuthangal.
Localities such as Kalimagal Nagar, Annai Sathya Nagar, Jafferkhanpet West and Amman Nagar have a sizeable low-income population, the kiosk is set up to help them as well as the homeless.
Many residents want similar community outlets stocking non-perishable food items also to be set up at select spots in the neighbourhood, especially during the lockdown as many homeless persons find it difficult to get adequate food every day. At present, volunteers from NGOs, welfare associations and individuals provide free food to the needy as they travel around the city every day.
“During the lockdown days, Amma Canteens provided free food for all. Volunteers were also encouraged to provide such free food to the needy. A decision will be taken on setting up such free food outlets at select spots,” says a Corporation official.