Clothing donations pour in for people who were once incarcerated – NBC Connecticut




Connecticut residents donate clothing wagons to The BEST Chance program in Hartford to help those who were once incarcerated get back on their feet.

Matthew Banever, Director of Consumer Sales for Bards Clothing, had the idea to donate clothes to the program.


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“I’ve always heard the same response from customers who say, ‘I have clothes in my closet that I never wear. I have costumes that I never put on, ”Banever said.

Banever said this only intensified when the COVID pandemic began and many people started working remotely from their homes. So, he thought, why not put the clothes to good use and that’s when he discovered the BEST Chance program.

“Being able to get clothes from point A to point B with no middleman, no profit, no external factors, just your clothes doing a good job for people,” Banever said.



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Banever was shocked at the response he received.

“The clothing donations a year ago was, ‘Here are some shirts, here are some,’ now people are saying to me, ‘Make sure you come with your empty car,’ Banever said.

The BEST Chance program was created in 2015 as part of the Second Chance initiative of then Governor Dannel Malloy. The aim is to help people return to their community after their release. The program offers pre-employment preparation and vocational training in construction, manufacturing and the culinary arts.


“Right now we are working with people who have been in prison for 12 to 20 years. So that’s the other thing, when someone comes into society like that and comes back into society, the world has changed so much that they now have to adapt to this new world ”, said Yolanda Rivera, Director construction sector initiatives.

Rivera said the clothing donations that have poured in are of great help.

“It’s the types of donations that really make a difference, because even though we’re funded by the state of Connecticut and the Hartford Foundation, there are some grants that really don’t allow these things to happen,” Rivera said.

Gwendolyn Chambers, one of the people who was once incarcerated, is taking manufacturing classes.

“It’s my past and I’m here now and I know I have a great future for myself and I’m trying to be an example for my son,” Chambers said.

If you would like to donate clothing to the BEST Chance program, you can contact Matthew here.



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