Greenfield YMCA hosts 9th annual free clothing store

  • The Greenfield YMCA’s ninth annual “free store”€ of used clothing in the gymnasium, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 on Main Street in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Kiarah Pinkham, 10, of Turners Falls, tries on a pair of boots during the Greenfield YMCA’s ninth annual “free store” of used clothing, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 on Main Street in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Greenfield YMCA’s ninth annual “free store” of used clothing in the gymnasium, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 on Main Street in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Greenfield YMCA’s ninth annual “free store” of used clothing in the gymnasium, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 on Main Street in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Gary Melbourne, of Greenfield, shops through men's clothing during the Greenfield YMCA’s ninth annual “free store” of used clothing, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 on Main Street in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Yohannie Ortiz, of Greenfield, right, looks through clothing for newborns with volunteer Diane Killeen during the Greenfield YMCA’s ninth annual “free store” of used clothing, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 on Main Street in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/4/2017 7:14:45 PM

GREENFIELD — Impromptu games of soccer broke out. Scrimmages took place between children as they took in the joys of an open gym, providing free play time.

While children played on one side of the YMCA gym, parents perused piles of clothing, looking for whatever fit their needs or their children, and all of it, as usual, was for free.

Once again, the Greenfield YMCA is running its annual free clothing store. Wednesday was the first day and today, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., it will conclude.

The idea of a free store got its start after the YMCA collected clothing for 21 families left homeless by a fire on Chapman Street in 2008.

That got the people at the Y thinking about what more they could do to help those in the community. The next year, the local YMCA opened a free clothing store to help with the year-round need.

Since then, the YMCA has run its clothing store in its gym, collecting donations of gently used clothing from members and opening its doors to whomever comes through them.

“It speaks to the need in the community just by the amount of people that show up,” coordinator and volunteer Terry Ruggles said.

This year, there’s an added benefit to the program, coordinator Susan Holmquist said. Some of the additional clothing will head to Puerto Rico to assist those affected by Hurricane Maria.

The YMCA free clothing store has grown over the years. This year, its organizers said it had at least double the donations from the previous year, up to possibly three times as many.

With more clothing though, the need was still apparent. Within an hour of opening the store at 1 p.m., 300-plus shoppers came through. And as some left their children to play on the other half of the gym, others went through the clothing with their children, in search of everything from winter coats to soccer cleats.

“This year, the community really came out and donated,” Holmquist said. “No one is ever turned away and we never limit the clothing.”

The process to collect the clothes and then open the store for two days takes about a month.

“We’ve been hiding them all over the Y for the last month,” organizer Jayne Trosin said.

The YMCA started asking its members to donate clothes, some of whom would come back and shop for themselves and their families.

“The beauty is that people get to clean out their closets and then somebody else can use them,” Trosin said.

From heavy coats to blazers, from boots to sneakers and from knit hats to ball caps with the Patriot’s logo, the options were overflowing.

Besides sending some items to Puerto Rico, some will go to the Salvation Army like in prior years, and some to those in the community in need. Last year, the organizers said about 95 percent of what they had collected went out to shoppers who came in the two days.

And as one child weaved his way through clothing racks with a basketball the size of his torso in tow, the event carried on like it does every year.

“It’s wonderful to see people come in from various towns,” Holmquist said. “It’s not just Greenfield. It’s Franklin County and beyond.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




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