St. Patrick’s clothing giveaway an act of love

Special to The PREVIEW

This Saturday, Oct. 19, from 8 a.m. to noon, the doors of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church parish hall will mark the entrance to a massive clothing giveaway, an annual event sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women.

Inside the building will be rooms with long tables piled high, as well as racks filled to capacity with gently-used clothing.

At the entrance, guests will find tables arranged with children’s clothes, scarves, warm gloves and toys, along with racks of coats. In the room to the right, there will be tables filled with men’s shirts (T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters), jeans, dress pants, gloves, scarves, and racks of dress shirts, jackets, and winter coats. Straight ahead is a large room filled with tables of women’s and youth clothing arranged by size. Tables will include lovely sweaters, dress pants, jeans, shirts, lingerie, coats and dresses. There will also be tables that will hold a variety of housewares. In another room will be a large collection of shoes arranged by men’s, women’s, youth, and children’s sizes.

“This event takes days to prepare,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “On Tuesday, the men will bring clothing to the church from Airport Storage, where clothes have been collected. They will set up tables and clothing racks in the various rooms so that on Wednesday the women of the church can begin the task of unpacking, separating, hanging, and arranging clothing according to size and gender. Clothes that show excessive wear or are damaged are tossed aside. It takes days of hard work to put this together, but it is truly one of the most exciting and rewarding things we do as a congregation, an act of love.”

On Saturday morning, there will be long lines of people standing at the door, anxiously awaiting their turn to see what awaits them inside the parish hall. There will be ladies at the door handing out large black trash bags and encouraging each person to take as much as they need. The days of sorting begin to unravel as folks go through the piles searching for clothes they can wear. The ladies of the church are standing by to assist and restack clothes that have been passed over.

“We expect there to be a certain amount of chaos, but it is an orderly chaos,” said Fr. Doug. “No one pushes or shoves or grabs. People are grateful for the gift and express their gratitude in many ways. The looks on children’s faces are priceless as they find a new sweater that fits perfectly, or discover a fun toy and are told that they can take it for free. The men and women get excited to find some good looking clothes that they can wear to job interviews, or comfy clothes they can lounge in.”

No one is turned away from the door.

“All sorts of people come to the giveaway. Some people come to find something for a neighbor or friend who is struggling financially, or for adult children who are just starting out. The current state of joblessness has changed the dynamics of need considerably,” said Fr. Doug. “We have plenty of clothes and always have some clothing left over at the end of the day. Whatever we can’t give away, we send to local resale shops or nearby charities. Nothing goes to waste.”

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd., with parking behind the church.

For more information, call 731-5801.

This story was posted on October 17, 2013.