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Scene Around TownBY PETER PHELPSBack in 1970s when Scene Mag- azine first came on the scene, I was one of the lucky ones to have an article pub- lished in it. Since then, I have penned a number of pieces,and now have the pleasure of sharing my views through what’s Scene Around Town.One of my first thoughts is about an organization that has called Battle Creek its home for more than 130 years. I am speaking about the Charitable Union. It was started by a group of church ladies who organized a dance to raise monies to purchase school clothing for those who had none.Today, with a staff of fewer than eight full time, plus hundreds of volunteers, it quietly goes about the business of refur- bishing donated garments and distrib- uting them to those in need. It does that thanks to the community’s generous gifts of clothing.How can a team that small accomplish yeomen’s work? Last year, its 1,500 stal- wart volunteers contributed over 38,000 hours helping the organization fulfill its mission to provide clothing, bedding, and household items at no cost to families on their journey out of poverty.Best known for supplying gently used clothing, the local nonprofit is a $2.2 million asset in the community, which in- cludes the value of items given and givenout. It distributes about 375,000 pieces of clothing yearly.Let’s put that into perspective. Picture a pile of something, anything, as high as the Kellogg Headquarters or half wayup the Milton Tower. Now envision that ‘something’ is clothing. That’s what Char- itable Union gave away last year alone.“Our staff and volunteers serve in all sorts of capacities from donation unload- ers to sewing and menders; from retail clerks in our Free Store to artists that create great items for our Gift Shop,” said Teresa Allen, Charitable Union chief executive officer.Here is how it helps. Imagine you are going on a job interview, but have nothing appropriate to wear. Services within its client Free Store include interview ap- parel, even steel-toed boots. With colder weather around the corner, Charitable Union annually gathers thousands of winter coats, mittens, and scarves to ward off the chill for those going and coming to school and work. It also gives out hygienekits, period packs, and baby blankets and formula.Though it relies on donated clothing, Charitable Union has some voids in terms of specific types and sizes to give out such as men’s garments. That is where the Gift Shop comes into the picture. Proceeds from goods made and sold there are used to purchase missing items that are not currently donated.Before recycling became the rage, Charitable Union was its poster child. Over the decades it has collected hun- dreds of thousands of used garments that it repairs and puts back into use. But as generous as the community is, not allthat is bestowed is salvageable. In 2018 for example, this extraordinary nonprofit recycled 200,000 lbs. of unusable goods. “Think of your holey socks or those white t-shirts that are no longer white,” said Allen. “If they are clean, we can recycle them to the textile industry keeping them out of a landfill.”If you would like to volunteer a few hours a week or a month, the Charitable Union could use your help. No matter your skill-set from sorting and hanging clothes to being a tailor or tradesperson, Charitable Union would appreciate your time.For more information, visit the Charitable Union Website or call (269) 964-7234.Thanks to community support, Charitable Union has been ‘Scene Around Town’ for more than a century providing help that brings hope.Charitable Union, the original recycler.8 SCENE 4411 I CHARITABLE ISSUE

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