A virtual warehouse for good - OpEd, The Chronicle

GIVIT has now launched in the ACT

The Chronicle, 5 September 2017

Randy is a child who fled ISIS in Iraq with his family. He also has severe cerebral palsy. Life improved markedly when the family was given asylum by the Australian Embassy in Jordan, but they still faced challenges. Each night, Randy's father Maged would pack pillows around the young boy's body to stop him falling out of bed.

One time I forgot to surround him with the pillows and in the morning when I came to get him, I found him on the floor,’ Maged said. ‘I was crushed and my heart broken and started crying.’ Then an organisation called GIVIT arranged for 15 year-old Randy to receive a donated hospital grade electric bed, which stops him falling out. The result, says Maged, is that Randy ‘will be safe’.

Founded in 2009 by Juliette Wright, GIVIT is a national not-for-profit organisation matching people who have items, with charities that need them for the people they’re supporting. GIVIT has facilitated the donation of more than half a million items to needy individuals and charities, including children's clothing for families fleeing violence and steel-capped boots for unemployed men seeking work.

A key feature of their model is the idea of a 'virtual warehouse', which allows givers to pledge their donated item online, rather than having unwanted items collecting dust in a large shed. Only when a match is made does the item then get transported to the charity needing it, for the person they’re helping.  This means that if you donate an item, you know it's getting to the right place. The virtual warehouse is how Randy's family located a donor with a hospital bed.

GIVIT recently launched in Canberra, and recent requests include bedding for a mother and her baby who had been sleeping in their car and now secured a flat, a laptop for a man who has recently been homeless and keen to start job hunting, a bicycle to help a teen overcome transport problems, and art supplies for people living with dementia. To learn more, check out givit.org.au or head to their stall at Floriade (16 September to 15 October) where GIVIT will be an official charity partner.

Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fenner and his website is www.andrewleigh.com. 


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