In 2005, a thrift store called the Philly AIDS Thrift opened its doors for the first time. A nonprofit organization, Philly AIDS Thrift has spent the past 13 years serving the needs of HIV/AIDS patients in the city, of which there are approximately 30,000, three times the national average. In the fight against the epidemic, Philly AIDS Thrift has donated over $2.2 million to various organizations in the city, including AIDS Fund, Mazzoni Center, AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and more, all with one goal: bringing awareness to the virus, ending the stigma against patients and fighting for a cure.
Starting in 1988, and taking place every Dec. 1, World AIDS Day is an annual global observation of the victims of the AIDS virus, as well as patients currently living with it. Since the start of the outbreak in 1981, 35 million people have died of AIDS, with more than 658,000 victims being Americans. In addition to donations, Philly AIDS Thrift also provides free HIV testing on the second floor of the building.
Darby Riley, junior mechanical engineering major and president of Rowan oSTEM, was one of the organizers of the donation drive.
“This is really important for students of Rowan University to be able to volunteer and be a part of a community, but more than that, this is specifically for AIDS shelters,” Riley said. “It’s important that we’re supporting this in the same way that it was important we be involved in the AIDS charity walk. [AIDS] is a crisis that people don’t know is still going on. AIDS is still very much part of the LGBT community.”
Various items that were donated included clothes, CDs, hats and numerous other items that will be sold at Philly AIDS Thrift. The money made from store sales will subsequently be given back to other nonprofits in the city.
“The Philly AIDS drive is a good opportunity to give back to a community that I identify with,” said junior mechanical engineering major Cayla Ritz. “It’s a unique opportunity to give back to people who are less fortunate than I am. It’s a community that’s very dear to my heart, and a community that we need to support. As Darby said, [AIDS] is still a problem, and as a community, I think that we can get together and make it a little bit better.”
To learn more about the Philly AIDS Thrift and the work they do, visit their website at phillyaidsthrift.com. Rowan oSTEM meets every other Friday at REXT 140.
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