Part of an extensive network
By Michael Turton
This is one shed that has generated no controversy. In fact it creates only goodwill while enabling local residents to help those in need. The shed in question is located at St. Mary-in-the-Highlands Episcopal Church in Cold Spring — a used clothing shed operated by St. Pauly Textiles Inc., a company based in Farmington, New York, near Rochester. The company’s mission is to get quality used clothing to people who need it — both in the U.S. and in developing countries.
According to its website, in 2013 St. Pauly shipped more than 60 million garments, benefitting more than seven million people worldwide. A Better Business Bureau company, it operates a network of more than 800 used clothing sheds across New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Ohio.
The St. Mary shed is located on the church’s south driveway and accepts used clothing, shoes, sneakers, belts, purses, linens, pillowcases, blankets, curtains and stuffed animals. The company asks that all donations be cleaned and placed in tied, plastic bags. Items not accepted include furniture, electronics, household items, books, toys, pillows, rags and fabric scraps.
The Philipstown Women’s Clothing Exchange recently contributed several large bags of “gently used clothes” to St. Mary’s shed. It was the third such event hosted by Kate Vikstrom, layout editor at The Paper and Philipstown.info, and her colleague, advertising director Michele Gedney. Many of the more than 30 participants also went home with new additions to their wardrobes.
Ben DeGeorge, vice president of St. Pauly Textiles, told The Paper that organizations such as St. Mary-in-the-Highlands receive a small revenue stream for hosting a shed. “They [the church] also have the option of using some of the donated clothing in the local community, if there is a need,” DeGeorge said.
“I’ve been delighted with it,” the Rev. Shane Scott-Hamblen, rector at St. Mary’s, said of the shed. “It caught on much more than I would have thought. I see clothes being dropped off almost daily.” He also appreciates the consideration given to local needs. “I was very impressed that right from the start St. Pauly stressed we could take clothes for local use whenever we need to.”
St. Pauly sells the clothing it collects to relief agencies such as the Red Cross, nongovernmental organizations and local or regional governments, who in turn handle distribution. While some local charitable drop boxes have at times been criticized as eyesores, DeGeorge said St. Pauly prides itself in providing attractive wooden sheds that are well-built and regularly maintained. Clothing is picked up weekly from a regional facility located in Albany.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 85 percent of used clothing in the U.S. is discarded. The website SFGate.com reported that Americans throw out about 68 pounds of clothing per person per year, even though 99 percent of what is discarded could be donated or recycled.
St. Pauly Textiles was founded by DeGeorge’s father Joe 18 years ago and now employs close to 50 people.