Burrillville’s Post 88 collects 48K pounds of clothes, gets featured in national magazine

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BURRILLVILLE – A small shed on Chapel Street is helping to clothe people in need across the globe while raising funds for an organization that serves local veterans.

Berard Desjarlais American Legion Post 88 was recognized this month by St. Pauly Textile, Inc., a New York-based organization that collects the clothes from similar sheds at locations across the northeast.

The largest clothing collection organization in the region, St. Pauly had a record year in 2021, according to a letter sent to the Burrillville post, collecting more than 40 million pounds of clothes through the sheds. The donations equated to more than 200,000 pounds of clothing collected every day, shipped out to those who need them all over the world.

At the Burrillville shed, 48,832 pounds of clothing were collected and donated to the organization in 2021, enough to clothe an estimated 8,995 people. The town organization received $1,953 from the donations and this year, another bonus: a brand new, larger shed to replace the one that’s sat outside the Binns building at 111 Chapel St. for the past five years. The 8 X 10 structure has been replaced with an attractive, new 8 X 16 shed to accommodate more donations.

“Every clothing shed is an important part of the big picture,” noted the letter to the post from St. Pauly.

In reality, the Burrillville veterans organization collected even more clothing than noted in the communication. Volunteers with the legion sort donations left in the shed, and newer items are passed off to local clothes closets, Operation Stand Down Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Veteran’s Home Community Living Center.

The used clothing drop-off accepts all clothing, shoes, belts, purses, blankets, sheets, pillowcases, drapes and stuffed toys. Donations are never cut up or shredded, and no rags, fabric scraps, pillows, toys or household goods are accepted – and can be an expense for the post to dispose. Post members ask that the donations be clean and dry, and placed in a tied or closed bag before it is left at the outdoor shed.

In addition to helping to meet the global need for clothing, the sheds keep such used items out of landfills. St. Pauly notes that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, 85 percent of clothing in the U.S. is thrown away. 

“All of the clothing and textiles that we collect is used by someone, somewhere,” St Pauly notes.

The collections are just one project run from the Burrillville post, which supports American service members with needs such as help applying for veteran’s benefits. In December, the post mobilized in effort to help victims of a deadly Kentucky tornado, with a speedy and successful drive for needed supplies.

That effort was recognized this month in a national publication for members of veteran’s posts across the country, The American Legion.

“Post 88 in Burrillville, R.I. dispatched a trailer filled with aid and a 6 X 10 American flag after Commander Ray Trinque was inspired by footage of Mayfield’s mayor pulling a tattered U.S. flag from the rubble,” the magazine noted.

Trinque told NRI NOW that the post is now working on collecting items for a second trip to Kentucky, this time focused on donation of hand made items such as afghans, comforters, mittens, hats and sweaters. Delivery of the supplies is scheduled for February.

Donations to the latest Kentucky drive can be brought to Lawrence Brothers Hardware at 120 Chapel St., or donors can arrange to have the items picked up by calling (401) 651-5634.

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