What will you share today?
The season of giving is held throughout the year in Fayette County, where generous people support many charities and causes, and helping neighbors for neighbors is a way of life. It’s the way we live. This is what we do.
One organization provides one comprehensive place under one roof to give back. We support several local nonprofits at once when we donate, shop or volunteer at Clothes Less Traveled, often referred to as CLT.
“The incredible impact of CLT is the opportunity to give back in so many wonderful ways,” says Barbara Harrison, incoming chair of the organization’s board of directors. “Very few organizations offer that.”
If your New Year’s resolutions involve giving back or you’re looking for helpful ways to connect with the community, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to do so at Clothes Less Traveled.
The course begins with our donations. When we bring gently used items to our 25,000-square-foot CLT store on Highway 74 S in Peachtree, the profits from these donations become grants to charities in the community. In CLT, the result of downsizing or regressing is beneficial to many people, as well as setting the stage for what’s to come in your life.
The four dollars they collect for a perfectly decent blender you’ve traded for something fancier turns into meaningful support for nonprofits like Fight Senior Services and the Joseph Sams School.
“People value their donations, and they want to give things to someone who will continue to use or repurpose them,” Barbara says.
It tells the story of a couple who came and asked to talk to someone about their place of 12 fine china. They’ve been married for over 50 years, and these treasures were more than just plates and serving pieces. Their dishes represent special occasions for a lifetime. The couple wanted to make sure that someone would appreciate her value.
Barbara explains that newlyweds who can’t afford to buy a new set of fine china often come to CLT to look for options. Donations like this offer an alternative or allow family or friends to give them something unusual.
Your donations may help a single mom with back-to-school shopping or a college student furnish their home. CLT also helps families who have faced hard times by providing vouchers for household goods, furniture, and more. And with inflation rising daily, CLT’s high quality, affordable items are valuable to all of us.
Our generosity and excess are actually the genes for everything less travel clothing. It all began in Mary Ann Cox’s office at Holy Trinity Church, where her wardrobe was bloated with clothes people had brought to those in need in the area. So much so that when she opened the door to show Joan Felsmid the situation, the bags and suitcases fell to the floor. These two women decided to solve this problem, and in 2022, CLT celebrated the 25th anniversary of their solution.
Volunteer with joy
Which leads us to volunteering. Nothing is unloaded, sorted, shelved, priced or sold without the help of dedicated volunteers. Opportunities abound to help anyone who has a few free hours a month.
“We love our volunteers!” Barbara says, and points out that there are many benefits to volunteering.
A simple Google search supports this claim, leading to results from several studies that conclude that people who lend a helping hand to others experience mental and physical health benefits as a result.
The Mayo Clinic reports that volunteering leads to lower rates of depression and anxiety, especially for people over 65. A Carnegie Mellon University study found that volunteering is linked to reduced stress, which improves overall health. Other reports suggest that volunteering often increases physical activity and that those who volunteer regularly are less likely to have blood pressure issues.
The CLT website lists other benefits as well. For example, people of all ages benefit from a sense of purpose and learning new things. CLT provides many opportunities to learn new skills or to use the skills you have creatively and productively. High school students who have volunteered for the CLT are eligible for scholarships. CLT loves to accommodate church, school, and civic groups that want to volunteer together.
“Volunteering makes you feel good, and it’s a productive work,” Barbara says.
What is more correct? Do you retire in the chair or spend a few days a month working in the electronics department at a place like CLT?
Feeling isolated? You will find many new friends in CLT! Looking for a way to spend more time with the friends you already have? Sign up together to volunteer for CLT!
On average, you will find 12 volunteers contributing a total of 81 hours to the CLT. In the past five years, volunteers have contributed more than 134,000 hours of their time to CLT. They are the engine that runs everything in the community thrift store. All that CLT requires is that volunteers work four hours a month. The schedules are flexible, and the average length of the shift is three and a half hours.
Barbara points out that CLT shopping is not only budget-friendly, but also fun and good for the environment.
Suggest that people like to repurpose projects. Instead of buying something new, why not shop local and repurpose it?
“Saving is totally sustainable and green,” says Barbara.
Recycling and reuse reduces waste in landfills. What do you not like about it?
More good things
The whole cycle comes when profits from the purchases we make in CLT are reinvested in the community through grants to local nonprofits.
If you’re wondering exactly which charities benefit, you’ll find posters around the store highlighting some of the organizations that receive CLT grants. Places you know well, such as Bloom Our Youth, The Joseph Sams School, and Fayette Humane Society, are special.
Other recipients for 2021 include:
one-roof ecumenical alliance; Rescue Cats, Inc. Quetta Community Foundation, specifically for Nyonan Tornado Relief;
Royal Animal Shelter; Bedford School of Special Olympics, Fayette County; Clearwater Academy; Whiskers and paws. Senior Fight Services;
The mission of the armed forces swarm, collection, ranks, collar; Southern Conservation Fund Focus + Fragile Children; The Humane Society Fayette Promise Place Ministries by Square.
The Linus Project Fayette Pregnancy Resource Center; Children’s Village in Christian City; and St. Vincent de Paul, Holy Trinity.
Even when the store was closed during the pandemic, CLT found a way to make in-kind donations to many organizations. At Piedmont Fayette Hospital, they provided karaoke, adult coloring books for the nurses’ lounge, CD players, and music for patients. They also gave blankets for pet shelters and clothes for a children’s village in Christian City.
Because of the generosity of our donors, volunteers, and customers, since 1977, CLT has poured more than $7 million into the good causes we love in Fayette County and the surrounding area. This is a remarkable and measurable statistic.
It’s hard to measure the difference CLT makes in the lives of those who donate, shop, and volunteer there, but you can see it in the smiles on their faces. It is also difficult, and perhaps impossible, to calculate the impact of grants to charities in our region. However, know that when you donate, volunteer and shop, your investment leads to a compound interest in the community you love.
Giving is how we live. This is what we do. It is invaluable.
What will you share?
There are many ways to give back to the community by donating, volunteering and shopping at CLT.
If you’ve used extra stuff with kindness, the door for donations is open at the back entrance to the store Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you can save a few hours a month and would like to lend a helping hand with CLT, E-mail Michelle Brown, Volunteer Coordinator, or call (770) 486-8517 ext. 106.
If you’re looking for great value clothing, homeware, books, electronics, furniture, linens, toys, and just about anything else you can think of, CLT is open to shoppers Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The store is located at 459 Hwy. 74 South, next to Gil Roy.
visit CLT . website, call 770-486-8517, or E-mail for more information.