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By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
Coloradans believe in recycling.
We hate to see things thrown away that may have some life left in them.
On Saturday mornings in Pagosa, it is almost impossible to take a walk around the neighborhood without seeing a yard sale sign accompanied by lines of cars parked along the sides of the street. We love a bargain and we love to make use of things that others consider clutter.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, from 8 a.m.–noon at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, the women of the church will take this activity to a higher level. The church parish hall will be filled with gently used clothes, sorted by size and gender — clothes that are there for the taking, absolutely free, no strings attached.
“People sometimes find it hard to believe that we don’t want anything in return,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “They want to know who they should pay. But this is not a fund raiser. This simply is a benevolent gesture of love. Our motivation is to help families and individuals find the clothes they need to get through the months ahead. We don’t judge who is in need, who has money and who doesn’t, who should or shouldn’t be there. We open the doors to everyone. We hand out huge plastic trash bags at the door and invite our guests to take as much as they need. The idea is ‘If you need it, take it…if you don’t need it, leave it for someone who does.’”
Lest anyone think that these clothes are rags, the ladies of the church spend days prior to the giveaway going through every item of clothing, discarding clothes that are stained, have holes in them, or any other permanent defects. They hang dresses, blouses, and winter coats on racks, and fold and stack shirts, slacks, nightwear, underwear, and other clothing by size in piles on tables. Likewise, the men’s and children’s clothes are sorted in separate rooms, making it easier for guests to find what they need. Also available are bedding, table cloths, napkins, toys, shoes, purses, and accessories.
“We literally receive tons of clothes,” said Fr. Doug. “We are grateful to Airport Storage, which offers us a unit to store many of the clothes as they come in. We have church volunteers that have been dividing clothes by gender as they are received so that when they are brought to the church the task of displaying them is not as monumental as it might be otherwise. It is a huge undertaking, but so rewarding. It is something we all look forward to each year.”