Out With The Old, In With The ‘New’

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The performance space at ARTS/West was filled with tables heaving with clothing items over the weekend as part of the 7th annual Cat’s Pajamas Clothing Exchange.

The event allows community members to donate unwanted clothing in exchange for some “new” duds.

The clothing exchange was the brainchild of Emily Beveridge, who says the event gets a little larger each year. She said the event is held in the spring each year as people are looking to do some spring cleaning, particularly of their closets.

When the event was first held, it only spanned a day. Now the exchange has grown to a three-day marathon with donations pouring in throughout the weekend. Beveridge said the exchange has become more organized as it has grown, requiring more volunteers.

According to Beveridge, 360 volunteer hours were logged for the exchange, beginning three weeks prior to the weekend. Much of the work involves sorting the clothes, which was done by about 70 volunteers plus the ARTS/West staff. Beveridge said people drop off their donations well in advance.

Participants pay an entry fee and are allowed to take as many items as they donate. Additional items can be purchased for $1 each. All the money raised goes to support ARTS/West. The mission of the organization is to “make facilities, resources, and opportunities available to art organizations, individual artists, and community residents.” The space is part of the city of Athens’ Arts, Parks and Recreation Department.

ARTS/West Program Specialist Chelsa Peterson said the event brings in a sizable “chunk” of money for the arts facility. On Saturday she wasn’t sure how much money had been raised, but said it appeared to be more than last year.

Celeste Nolan of Gallipolis attended the exchange for the first time on Saturday. She said she had always wanted to attend, but this was the first year she had the opportunity. She said her family frequents Athens for the farmers market.

“I get excited about thrifting, which is what this reminds me of,” Nolan said.

Veronica Wilcox of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio also attended the event for the first time.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said while digging through a stack of clothes.

Both women said they wished they would have brought more clothes to trade in.

“It brings people together and encourages reusing,” Beveridge said of the event. “Plus the value of the clothes stay here in Appalachia.”

The event has become so popular that another clothing exchange will likely be held in the fall, according to Beveridge. She said she hopes to hold an exchange around the first week of November as people are transitioning back into winter clothing.