By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
The Episcopal Church Women of St. Patrick’s have been collecting gently used clothes, coats, shoes, accessories and bedding since early August. They have filled three storage units with an abundance of items that will be given away, free of charge, this Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon.
“We have more than enough clothes to go around,” said event organizer Lynne McCrudden. “We hope that everyone will come and take advantage of the opportunity to stock up on warm winter clothing. We have clothes in all sizes from infants to adults. Some of the items are brand new, while others have plenty of wear left in them. There is no reason for anyone in our county to go without warm clothing this winter.”
The giveaway is an annual event that began many years ago in response to teachers reporting that children were coming to school wearing light summer attire in the middle of the cold Pagosa winters. Women began collecting used clothing to be given away to needy families. Over the years, the event has grown by leaps and bounds, with many generous donations by community members and area businesses.
Upon arrival, guests are given large trash bags in which to put clothes that they wish to take. People come to pick up clothes for themselves as well as for neighbors and friends who cannot attend. There is no limit to the number of bags that can be filled and taken.
All the clothing is carefully sorted and displayed in rooms specific to gender and size. The library area contains men’s clothing, which includes shoes, belts, socks, T-shirts, coats, suits, ski wear, sweaters, hats, gloves and more. The front of the parish building includes shoes, purses, scarves, gloves, belts and other sundry accessories. The main parish hall contains women’s and youth clothing, sorted into sizes. There is a classroom filled with infant and children’s clothing, while another contains bedding supplies.
“This is one of the most important ministries we do here at St. Patrick’s,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “It is in keeping with Christ’s mandate to offer clothing to those who are in need. We know that many, in spite of working several jobs, are struggling to make ends meet. Many parents have children who have outgrown their coats and sweaters from last year. Buying clothes for rapidly growing children can be expensive. This giveaway offers an opportunity to make sure that they and their children are kept warm during the cold winter months.”
He added, “We also have many people who live on a fixed income and cannot afford to restock their closets with new clothes. We hope that they will come and pick out some beautiful items to enjoy. There will be no judgments made in terms of who is or is not worthy to receive these free clothes. All are welcome!”
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. next door to Pagosa Springs Medical Center. For more information, call 731-5801.