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Here’s what happens when we receive and open your underwear donations

We’re often asked if we’ve received parcels of underwear that you’ve so generously donated. This can be a surprisingly tricky question to answer! So we thought it would be helpful if we explained what happens after you’ve sent them off to us.

Receiving the parcels

Donations sent by Royal Mail are delivered straight to our warehouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we collect from the local sorting office on a Saturday. There are often a lot of parcels to be collected but, thankfully, we have wonderful volunteers who are happy to fill their cars to transport them to our warehouse where we open, sort and store the underwear.

All couriered donations – including those from Amazon – go directly to Maria’s home and are left under cover on the porch of the Pantagon (Pants HQ!) in her garden. People sometimes drop parcels off in person too, and if Maria’s not in when they arrive, they also leave their donations at the Pantagon.

Almost every day, Maria will take a carload or two from there to the warehouse.

We know all this collecting and transporting doesn’t sound very efficient! But when we find a more permanent home, we hope to have all the parcels delivered straight there.

Opening and sorting the parcels

We rely completely on volunteers who are kind enough to come in and open/sort your donations in their spare time. We have two – sometimes three – opening/sorting days each week, but sometimes the donations come in faster (not complaining!) than we can sort them and it can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks from when you send a parcel to our being able to open it.

“We split them into pants and bras, then ages and sizes,” says Shelagh, one of our intrepid volunteers, “So when we get requests from our partners who distribute the underwear in Africa, it’s so much easier to get it bagged and ready.”

Sometimes people include little notes which are lovely to read and encourage us in what we do.

Acknowledging the parcels

Unfortunately, we don’t have a way of tracking parcels. This is largely because data protection regulations mean we can’t keep records that would allow us to trace people’s names and addresses or tie them to a particular donation.

In an ideal world, we’d like to be able to thank all our kind and generous supporters individually. But due to data protection issues and the costs that would be involved in writing, we’re unable to do this. Instead, we need to rely on social media – and where possible email – to thank people for their kindness.

Many – if not most – of the parcels we receive are anonymous. But if a parcel includes an email address (which we can read!), our volunteers pass it to Maria who once a month sits down to send little thank you emails. The notes then need to be destroyed and the records deleted.

If you’ve sent us a parcel and haven’t heard anything from us, we hope this explains why. Please know that we value each and every donation and that your help is making a real difference. We couldn’t do what we do without you and truly appreciate your support.