Clothing giveaway returns on ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors Day’ in Calera

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

The Spring Clothing Give Away, sponsored by Calera Acts of Kindness, returns Saturday, March 5 to provide free clothes for all ages in need.

The drive will be held at the Calera National Guard Armory beginning at 8 a.m. Organizers are asking for clothes to give away and volunteers to help.

The city of Calera is supporting the effort with a proclamation declaring March 5 as “Neighbors Helping Neighbors Day” in the city. The proclamation encourages citizens to do “whatever you can do to help your neighbor.”

Clothing is needed. Organizers are asking for clean, gently-worn infant, children, teens, men’s and women’s spring and summer clothes and shoes. The clothes should be on hangers, if possible.

Items can be dropped off at the armory weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. From March 2-4, items can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Organizers sort through each item individually before displaying it.

There are no qualifications for those who come to receive the clothes.

“We just ask that they take as much as they need for their family, but not more than they need,” said Rebecca Krueger, an event organizer.

Those in need should be lined up by 8 a.m. Clothes are given away until they are gone. Any remaining items are donated to Daniel Cason Ministries.

“We recognize that it could be any of us at any point that are in the same situation in need,” Krueger said. “That’s why this group of people has gotten together.”

The clothing giveaways started in 2006 with a coat drive organized by Jenny Avery and Elli Harrington, with the help of others, Krueger said. They gave away 100 coats and in 2007 expanded the giveaway to include clothes.

The clothing giveaway was held each year after that, normally in the fall. The first spring giveaway was held in 2010 and helped more than 500 people. The last fall giveaway, in October 2010, helped 855 people.

Calera Acts of Kindness has grown by “leaps and bounds” throughout the years and now includes a core group of about 50 volunteers, Krueger said. Not all volunteers live in Calera. Some come from Columbiana, Montevallo, Alabaster and elsewhere.

“We had a mama last fall who came to get clothes,” Krueger said, “and as she was leaving with her kids she stopped one of us and said, ‘I just want to thank you for what you do. Because of your acts of kindness, I’ve been able to quit my second and third jobs to be with my kids at night because y’all provided me with clothes.’”

All volunteers wear red shirts. In years past, some of those who have come to receive clothes have went through the line, picked up clothes, gone home to put on a red shirt and then come back to volunteer.

Krueger said many people often ask if there is any way they can repay the act of kindness.

The LifeSouth Blood Mobile will be at the Armory during the giveaway for anybody, volunteers included, wishing to donate blood.

“There’s a great need for blood right now,” Krueger said. “LIfeSouth is in emergency status for all blood types.”

The Calera Police and Fire departments will also be at the Armory.

The fire department will provide special safety demonstrations, and the police department will offer free fingerprinting for kids. The fingerprints are part of kids’ safety kits, Krueger said, and are not entered into any police database. Parents take the prints home.

Several area churches, including Calera Baptist, will provide hot chocolate, coffee and bottled water. Lemonade and popcorn will also be available.

More information is available on facebook at “Calera Acts of Kindness Clothing Give Away.” For additional information, or to volunteer, e-mail caleraaok@hotmail.com or call Krueger at 281-1975.