Real Life Center maximizes use of used clothing

Tue, 05/19/2009 - 2:35pm
By: The Citizen

Real Life Center maximizes use of used clothing

With spring upon us, are you looking through your closet and realizing that you need to clean clothes you have not worn in a while? Here is a suggestion on where to donate those clothes so they will help people in Fayette County and in other parts of the world.

There are many different options available for disposing of your used clothing. You could simply put it in the trash, you could hold a yard sale, or you could donate it to one of many charitable organizations in Fayette County. The Real Life Center ensures that your clothing benefits the most people possible. Located in Tyrone, the Real Life Center (RLC) accepts donations Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m.-noon and Thursday from 9 a.m.-noon and 5-7 p.m.

The first use that the RLC makes of these clothing is to sort through the clothing to determine what can be used for the Fayette County ministry. The RLC assists families in the Fayette County area by providing a clothes closet in addition to a food pantry and services to assist those who are experiencing difficult circumstances. RLC also operates a thrift store in Tyrone. Proceeds from the store help to support the RLC financially.

The RLC has partnered with Master Provisions to further use these clothes. Without the support of Josh Bonner and Southeast Property Management Company this effort could not be possible. Master Provisions ( is part of a ministry that collects clothing from various parts of the United States and ships them to Europe, Africa and Central America. This clothing provides opportunities to share the Gospel message in other countries, provides jobs for locals and inexpensive clothing to the communities served.

The used clothing from Fayetteville is sorted to those pieces that are best used in northern climates (Kosovo, Ukraine, etc) and southern climates (Honduras, Nigeria, etc.). Those pieces that are not appropriate to be given in the name of Jesus Christ (beer or tobacco advertisements, foul language, torn or stained) are discarded. The clothing is then tightly packed into four-foot long shipping bags. Once fully packed, these bags will weigh between 80 and 85 pounds each. In addition to the clothing, other wearable items are packed into boxes for shipping. The boxes contain shoes, purses & belts.

All the clothing bags and boxes will be packed into a shipping container. It will take about 400 bags of clothing and 65 boxes to properly fill a container. It takes about 400 work hours to prepare all the clothing for shipping and load the container. Once loaded, the container will travel by truck, rail and ship to its final destination.

Once this clothing reaches the destination country, customs must be paid, additional trucking of the container occurs and the clothing must be distributed. Using Honduras as an example, the clothing helps provide direct employment for six Hondurans. In addition, nine other people help support the clothing ministries bringing the total to 15 Hondurans employed at over six different store locations. Over the years of working with various groups, Master Provisions has found that most people would like to maintain their dignity and not just receive a hand-out. As part of this way to maintain people’s dignity the clothing is “sold” for a nominal cost. These nominal fees also help defray the cost of shipping, import duties & taxes and distribution costs. In Honduras the most expensive article of clothing is $1 and shoes are sold for $3. Each store owner has the liberty to give away some amount of their clothing to those too poor to be able to afford clothing. Since the store owners are familiar with the neighborhoods they serve, they are well positioned to know their clients and are able to share God’s love in a way that directly meets the needs of the people in the area they serve.

Of the six stores in Honduras, two are run as an evangelical outreach by a Honduran church, two are run by employees of the mission and two are run by pastors of churches planted by the mission. The two church-operated stores help support four full time evangelists, help with the upkeep on a vehicle and provide the necessary funds to purchase supplies used by the evangelism team. This stores typically go through a total of 20 bags of clothes each week and four boxes.

The two Church plant stores and two mission-run stores each use 10 bags of clothes and two boxes each week. Each of these four stores typically have 10 customers visit the store each day.

In all the stores, there is information available to the customers that discuss what it means to know Jesus as your personal savior. Each of the store operators are Christians and continue to share the love of Jesus with each customer.

Bringing this back to Fayette County, you may be asking yourself – how can I help? The ways you can help are:

• Bring those items from your closet that you no longer need to the Real Life Center.

• Organize a clothing drive at your church to collect clothes for the next container (for larger churches Master Provisions can help your church send its own container)

• Personally volunteer to help sort clothing, pack bags or load a container.

• Donate funds to help offset the shipping costs to get the container from Fayetteville to the destination country.

• Organize your small group, cell group, Boy Scout patrol or athletic team to volunteer once per month to help sort clothes and pack bags

• Suggest additional sources for used clothing

• Be an intercessor for those who are doing the work and for the missionaries in Honduras

• Go to Honduras as part of a short term mission team

• Assist with air transport to those who might want to go but can not afford the full air fare.

login to post comments