7 On Your Side: Get kids' school wardrobe for free

August 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It is possible to put together your children's back to school wardrobe and maybe even their school supplies absolutely free. With a little luck, you could probably do this in a matter of days -- about the same amount of time it would take you to shop. It's a bargain hunter's delight.

Sebastian Vargas, 11, is armed with his box and ready. The Los Altos Hills boy is clearing out any unwanted items from his book shelf and closet. He's hoping to swap his unused things for something new.

"I would like some new books, maybe some games, board games," said Sebastian.

His sister Ella is already on Swap.com looking to trade her stuff for a gumball machine. Mom suggests she looks for some school supplies instead.

Swapping these days is not only in vogue, it's practical. The financial consulting firm Deloitte estimates the average family this year will spend $428 on school shopping. Andrea Woroch is a consumer expert.

"Swapping is a great opportunity to provide some financial relief for yourself and other friends and family," said Woroch.

These women are part of an international organization known as Swap-O-Rama-Rama. They swap clothes, and then often take the materials and upcycle them into something better.

"Here's a nice skirt that I made out of a t-shirt. Here's one I made out of a sweater," said Erin Scholl from the Bay Area chapter of Swap-O-Rama-Rama.

Not only is it environmentally friendly, it's free. And who doesn't like free? Instructors are on hand at Swap-O-Rama-Rama events to teach you how to upcycle the same rules that apply for adult clothing, apply to children as well.

"There's tons of clothes and they're free. And we have children's clothes," said Scholl.

Sebastian and Ella's mom, Marita Vargas, likes the idea that swapping helps get rid of clutter.

"I really like it. It helps us get organized and make room for new things," said Marita.

She packs up the items, sends them to Swap.com and uses any credit she earns to swap for new items. Or if she prefers, she can just pocket the money. If upcycling or going online is too much trouble for you, you can also organize your own swap.

"It it's a small swap with family and friends, it would probably make sense to keep it to a certain age group," said Woroch.

Or with the help of a PTA, you can make it a community wide event. That's something Marita hopes to do this school year.

"People can just swap and then all the stuff that is left over then nobody wants to take we will ship to Swap.com and then the school will get the funds," said Marita.

Here are links to the websites mentions and tips for organizing your own swap.

Swap-O-Rama-Rama Bay Area chapter
Swap.com
Back to School Swap Ideas


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