Clothing drive turns cast-offs into valued donations
It is no secret that Fairfield County, with its wealthy enclaves, is the land of the well-dressed. Especially among the fashion-forward and those with growing children, new wardrobes are amassed each season, while old ones are tossed into the forgotten nether regions of bulging closets.
On Saturday, many of these garments saw the light of day again after landing in the grateful hands of Person-to-Person, a Darien-based nonprofit that provides emergency financial assistance, food, shelter and scholarships to thousands of residents in the area each year.
The clothing drive, which is in its second year and cheekily named "Stamford, Take Off Your Clothes!" was held in the parking lot of Half Full Brewery on Homestead Avenue. The Waterside-based business sponsored the event along with the Young Professionals Network, a group run by The Business Council of Fairfield County.
At the drive held last year, Person-to-Person collected more than 100 large garbage bags filled with clothing. On Saturday, the roughly 30 volunteers were on pace to outdo that number, with 60 bags collected after only an hour.
Each bag is valued at $85, based on a price estimate calculator used by The Salvation Army.
Ceci Maher, Person-to-Person's executive director, said the values applied are extremely modest, with a T-shirt valued at just $1.
"To buy these clothes at resale would be significantly more," she said.
The clothing drive served as a reminder of the significant number of families who are still in the throes of the recession. While there are signs that the economy has improved for some, Maher said, "For people who are not as financially secure, it is as much a struggle as it was."
Maher said that summer tends to be an overlooked season when it comes to donating clothes, with most people cleaning out their closets in the winter and spring. For the 300 people that the organization serves each day, the items most in need are children's clothes as well as men's shoes.
People are asked to donate only what they would give a friend.
While some of the pieces, like a black-netted thong, appeared to stretch that assumption, most fell into exactly that category. Among the cast-offs were a gently worn pair of pink Uggs, a sequined black spaghetti-strap top perfect for clubbing, and a rack stacked with an array of button-down dress shirts, suitable for an office job or formal occasion.
"Are you kidding?" exclaimed Wilder Gleason, the president of the board of directors at Person-to-Person, when asked about the quality of clothing he had encountered. Sorting through a pile of casual pants and spring tops, he said, "There are tags still on them."
Sean Keating, a 35-year-old resident from Stratford, arrived with two large bags of clothing. Keating, who works in the Stamford offices of McGladrey LLP, an accounting and consulting firm, said he heard about the clothing drive during a meet-up of the Young Professionals Network. For him and his family, the event came at just the right time. "We probably needed to clean out our closets anyway," he said.
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