Clothes for the Cause: A Recycling, Reusing, and Repurposing Fundraiser

I’m a collector, an artist, a creator. When we took apart the old dryer, the drum became a giant, outdoor flower pot. Deadwood pruned from my Japanese maple and twisty pine became walking sticks and garden fences. Clothes are worn until threadbare and then are cut into strips and used in art projects.

But there is a limit. And that limit is: How much room do I have to store potential art materials before I end up on an episode of Hoarders? Aye. There’s the rub.

One of my friends is a member of the Kenilworth Presbyterian Church in southeast Portland. OR. The church has a small community garden, and the parish lets me cultivate a plot. In it I grow organic beans, tomatoes, corn, tomatillos, eggplant, Swiss chard, and other lovely vegetables.

I like these people. They have good hearts. And even as a non-member, I try to help the parish as best I can – buying food for back-pack buddies, donating to their rummage sale, and now, gathering bags of clothes and other fabrics for their textile drive.

This textile drive is a new thing for me. I seldom throw away clothes and purging my closet is not a common occurrence. Mostly, I put clothes in boxes and store them in the basement. One reason is I used to work at Pendleton Woolen Mills. Visualize my wardrobe.

And that’s just a small part of my horde of vintage clothing.

So I read up on Clothes for the Cause, checked out their home page, read what they collect, was impressed by how they use the items they collect, and appreciated that they paid for the textiles donated.

So I bit the bullet, closed my eyes, and started stuffing bags with clothes. Occasionally, I held something up and said, “Wow. I used to be skinny.” Other times I said, “What was I thinking?”

Presently I have nine giant black bags sitting on my couch and loveseat. I’ve held out a couple Pendleton jackets, some awesome jeans, collector t-shirts, and vintage fabric. These will go to friends (jackets and fabric), the rummage sale (awesome jeans), and a local SF convention (collector t-shirts). Ah. And sheets. I’m hanging on to most of my stash of sheets. They have so many uses.

What I do donate will be sorted. Some will be sold. Some will become cleaning rags. And some will be shredded for stuffing and insulation. Little of it will end up in the landfill. What a good feeling.

So, if you are interested in really, really recycling, reusing and repurposing your clothes, check out Clothes for the Cause. It is a West Coast organization and if you miss a fundraiser, they have drop off bins in Portland, Boise, and Spokane.

Here’s the link for more info:

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