FOREST PARK, Ill. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Helping non-binary people build their wardrobe, and helping the environment was the goal of a clothing swap in west suburban Forest Park this weekend.
Ryan O'Connor, 24, organized the event in the Altenheim Picnic Grove at 7824 West Madison and told WBBM it "was for everybody." but also aimed to help members of the transgender community whose wardrobe might not have the best fit for them.
"A lot of the times people know what they're comfortable wearing, and whether or not we pay attention to it and the way we express ourselves, because gender is just self expression, really," O'Connor said.
"You know, when you're trans, you have a lot more things to think about in terms of gender and sometimes that means you have a whole closet of clothes that do not fit how you feel, fit how you identify, or make you comfortable."
Marcel Dizon dipped into their own closet to help out and said, "clothing is a big part of the way that we express ourselves."
They were one of several volunteers who helped with the thousands of donated shirts, sweaters, shoes, pairs of pants, and so much more that was spread out over picnic tables for several hours on a beautiful September afternoon and drew more than 100 people.
Ryan's father, Mike, was also helping out and said his child is "part of a different time, different generation and we do what we can to help our kids and help what they value."
O'Connor also said the clothing swap was meant to help Mother Earth, saying what looks good actually does bad.
"For example, fast fashion is incredibly awful for the environment! It relies on you buying things impulsively, usually fabrics that are mostly plastics and realizing (that) when you throw them out when you don't want them and you buy more," they explained.
"When you have so much clothes left over and you keep throwing them out, most people start to feel a little bad about that, so I thought this might be a nice way to intercept the next step of either being re-sold or thrown out."