Clothing donations offer help to many

Naomi Scott

Minneapolis resident Cheryl Griffin searched through seemingly bottomless piles of new and used clothing Friday. She grabbed shirts, khakis and other church clothes for her son.

Griffin, a peer educator at the Fremont Health Clinic, joined 300 Twin Cities-area residents who picked out the clothes donated by University students, staff, faculty and community members in the Fill the Bus campaign.

“Just about anything is helpful,” Griffin said. “The University people who coordinated this drive did a fantastic job.”

Metro-area residents have been picking through the donations since Dec. 2 at Oak Park Neighborhood Center in north Minneapolis.

Campaign organizers delivered more than 1,500 garbage bags full of clothes, said Nancy Seger, youth services manager at the center.

The amount of clothes appeared to be double what was donated last year, Seger said. The center got so many clothing items that mounds of bags still fill the basement.

People have been impressed with the high quality of clothing contributed, she said. Brands varying from Merona to Abercrombie & Fitch and Liz Claiborne could be found at the giveaway.

The center has also been able to fill specific clothing requests, including warm winter coats and infants’ clothes, Seger said.

She said a man came in looking for a suit to wear to a job interview. Although he had never owned one before, center employees were able to help him find a good-looking suit that fit perfectly, Seger said.

Christopher Hastings, 24, looked for casual T-shirts and more formal, button-up shirts as he perused the piles in the men’s clothing section in the center’s basement.

Hastings and 60 other developmentally disabled adults were invited to the event through the Northwest Area Foundation’s Community Connections program.

A portion of the Fill the Bus clothing was also sent to other Pillsbury United Communities centers in Minneapolis, Seger said.

She said her center will continue to distribute the clothes to anyone in need throughout the year.

“It’s not just one push for the holidays,” she said. “This will benefit our clients for the entire year.”

Seger said those who came to the giveaway could not have been more excited about what they found there.

“Everyone who has come in, their jaws have just dropped,” she said.