Szafa Dobra is a shop where Ukrainian refugees can get clothes for free. It is located in a former shopping mall, whose name was Plaza. It really works like a shop. Customers – only Ukrainian refugees indeed – can pick what they need and are assisted at the fitting rooms. Around one thousand people go there every day (it is closed only on Mondays). There is also a play area for children, so that parents can let them have fun while they are going shopping.

Szafa Dobra was organised by the Internationaler Bund Polska foundation together with partners. Strabag Polska has renovated and adapted the premises to the required standards. IKEA Krakow has equipped the space with hangers, baskets, stands and other accessories. The clothing company Diverse trained volunteers and employees in running the store. Galeria Kazimierz has equipped the volunteer zone with deckchairs and other essentials.

Szafa Dobra relies only on volunteers’ help, who can give their contribution in different areas. Sixty volunteers are needed during each shift and there are two daily shifts. There are different roles. There are volunteer clerks at the different departments, such as women, men, children’s clothes, second-hand shoes and accessories. These are the areas where Ukrainian people can get as many items as they want. 

Underwear, which is always new, and new shoes are delivered in different ways. To ensure a fair distribution, people can receive these things only once, so that more people can receive them. Here the management procedure is more complicated and more volunteers are needed, since people have to be registered after getting these types of items. 

There is also a play area for children, where at least two volunteers look after children above 4 year-old age, to make shopping smoother for parents who need it. Volunteers can give a hand in the background, such as in restocking or warehouse.

Next to the shop-floor, there is the restocking area. This department ensures the refilling of shop hangers. A volunteer is always responsible to look for empty sections in the shopping area, for example women’s shorts of L size. He or she communicates it to the restocking department. How? He or she put a note on the designated notice board. 

The other volunteers in restocking have two main roles. Some go to the warehouse and they collect card boxes with the clothes previously sorted. Here, the card boxes are already divided into categories (women, men, children, size and type). The volunteer takes the card box for the order to the other area of the restocking department. Here, others put the clothes on hangers, and when they are all hung, they take them to the actual shop. 

Things are very well organised, because on the notice board there are few simple but useful ways to communicate the status of the order. A tick on the order marks the fact that a volunteer is looking for the items in the card boxes, a second tick is made when clothes are being hung and it is crossed out when clothes are taken to the shop itself. This is very useful to avoid confusion. It never happens that two people take care of an order at the same time, and other volunteers can always check.

The flow of donations must be managed. First, not all kinds of items can be accepted. Szafa Dobra accepts only clothes, shoes, accessories and sometimes suitcases. Not even all the clothes can always be accepted. For instance, coats or anoraks are not necessary in Spring, because Ukrainian people wouldn’t get them in this season and these pieces of clothes would remain in the boxes, unused and occupying the warehouse, which has a limited size. At the warehouse area, volunteers sort clothes and other suitable items. They throw away the broken ones and they put dirty clothes in a specific area, so that they can be washed.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, all European Solidarity Corps volunteers who carry out projects at Internationaler Bund Polska have made at least a shift per week at Szafa Dobra. In this emergency situation we all would not like to face, they decided to join the effort that whole Poland is making to help Ukrainian refugees.