This is the third year in a row that I’ve covered the good works that is the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive. In its 10th year, the National Suit Drive is a month-long initiative that collects gently used professional clothing that will be donated to good causes that help Americans transitioning back into the workforce.
One such beneficiary is Chris Bellegia. A retired U.S. Air Force veteran, he struggled with depression, PTSD and addiction, which prevented him from returning to his life and maintaining any normalcy. A local good cause provided training to help him overcome adjusting to civilian life and re-entering the workforce.
Despite developing new skills, Bellegia still lacked one thing: a professional attire to ace the interviews he worked so hard to secure. That’s where Working Wardrobes based in Irvine, CA. stepped in.
Working Wardrobes is one of the recipients of Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive donations. Through Working Wardrobes Bellegia worked with a personal shopper “who started tailoring colors, shirts, slacks and styles with me,” he recalls. “It brings tears to my eyes to think about the experience. I felt ‘normal.’ The Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive and Working Wardrobes helped change my life.”
Donations collected at Men’s Wearhouse stores throughout July are distributed to over 170 local non-profit organizations across the country—organizations like Working Wardrobes—that help disadvantaged individuals regain employment through job readiness programs and workforce assistance. Over the past nine years, the National Suit Drive has collected more than 1.3 million items of professional clothing.
People can donate their gently used professional clothing, including men’s and women’s suits, ties, jackets, shirts, pants, belts and shoes at over 750 Men’s Wearhouse locations across the country. As a thank you, donors will receive 50 percent off their next purchase of regular priced retail items (excluding shoes, clearance and Exceptional Value items).
Each year Men’s Wearhouse partners with a celebrity to help get the word out. This year’s partner is professional dancer and “Dancing with the Stars” alum Derek Hough. I was able to have an email Q&A with Hough regarding his involvement with the National Suit Drive.
Q: Why did you decide to get involved with the National Suit Drive and Men’s Wearhouse in 2017?
A: For me, whenever I’m approached to bring awareness to a good cause, I always try to be a part of it. I’ve seen firsthand how much it can help someone with their pride when they can look and feel a certain way, and I think it gives them that extra confidence to enter the work force. When I heard Men’s Wearhouse had been doing this for 10 years, I wanted to be a part of it.
Q: Why do you believe in helping others get back on their feet?
A: I think everyone deserves chances. You can either be the victim or the victor. For people who are fortunate and have the time to lend a hand in some way, it’s always a good thing to do.
Q: Do you have a story to share from your background when someone paid it forward or reached out to help you when you were just getting started? If so, can you tell me about it?
A: My dad has always contributed to causes like this. He would take bags full of business clothes down to South America and give them to people in need. I think it made a really big difference in their confidence and gave them a better chance at getting back into the workplace.
Q: Why is it important for men to look good and feel good with the clothes they wear?
A: When you dress a certain way and take care of yourself, it gives you a sense of pride. Especially for a job interview, when you’re seen as taking care of yourself, you project an image of your confident, best self, and that can help you come off as someone who will take care of the job.
Q: Will you yourself be donating any clothing to the National Suit Drive? Or if you already have, what did you donate?
A: I donated a full suit with shoes and a belt, and plan to contribute more in the future.
Leah Ingram’s mission is to help you feel more confident about your spending, regardless of income. She’s written 14 books, including Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less and Toss, Keep, Sell! Her 15th book, The Complete Guide to Paying for College, will be in bookstores Fall 2017. Leah is a money-saving expert who has shared her unique personal finance approach and advice about getting the most bang for your buck on local and national TV, including The Weather Channel, Good Morning America and ABC News Now. For more about Leah, subscribe to her money-saving blog, follow her on Twitter @theleahingram, see what she’s Pinning on Pinterest, and “Like” her page The Confident Spender on Facebook. Also, check out Leah’s newest venture–Pawsome Doggie, selling dog-themed bakeware and birthday party supplies!
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