Friday, July 29, 2011

How to get free clothes for ten people fast in Albany circa 2009

I saw this on facebook last night and wish to comment. (BTW, I'm still in Mae Sot but we'll ignore that interesting tid bit today.)

"New family of 10 arrived from refugee camp last night. We are desperately looking for kids clothes and shoes for this family. They have only the clothes on their backs, no socks or underwear, and 1pair of tennis sneakers each. Looking for boys and girls clothes and shoes of all sizes."

It was followed by a flurry of well intentioned activity and offers.

However, when I was the furniture guy at USCRI-Albany I learned to deal with these things quickly and easily. (Many people thought I was the "Stuff" guy.) Unfortunately as the organization does not communicate well and has little to no institutional memory that knowledge seems to have been lost. Or perhaps it's that I'm two years out of date.

First the Albany city mission gives away free used but clean clothes. They have what's called "the free store" or IIRC, "Blessingdales."

Many refugees know this. (They taught me.) However hours are normally limited and patrons are required to wait in line with other patrons for a brief visit. Unfortunately, this often brings newly arrived refugees into friction with untreated mentally ill and drug addicts and such. This is not good.

Fortunately the staff knows this and if contacted would discuss making appointments for refugees during off hours so they could get what they needed.

As always, if one uses this service encourage people to replete it when they can, through donations of their own.

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