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ClothesLine in Oregon City needs help

In Oregon City, the Church of the Nazarene is sending out an urgent plea on behalf of those in need. Its ClothesLine charity, which distributes shoes, bedding and clothes to families that receive emergency food aid, is running out of those items.

'Our supply is drying up at the moment,' said Carole King, the charity's chairperson. 'We're especially short on shoes, children's clothes of all sizes, casual men's work clothes and women's plus sizes.

'We think maybe people have just forgotten we're here.'

The one group that has not forgotten about the program are its clients, who are arriving in increasing numbers. In 2004, the year ClothesLine launched, it served 4,821 people - and that number has increased every year since, to 5,976 in 2005 and 6,870 in 2006

'I'd say we go through one ton of clothes per week,' said King. 'People always tell us how much they appreciate this. A lot of them have jobs, but they pay is so low that they aren't meeting their needs. A food box once a month and a bag of clothes is a big boost for them.'

Michael Kargianis, a disabled Vietnam veteran, was on hand for the regular Monday evening event last month, looking for a suit.

'I'm looking for clothes for an interview,' he said. 'I'm going up the federal building to see about getting some voc-rehab to help me go back to school, and I just want to look my best.'

Volunteer Elena LaCicero explained that a visit to ClothesLine is similar to a regular clothing store - except that no charge card is required.

'I don't think there is any difference,' she said. 'People are just looking for what they need. It's just like going to a thrift store - people look for what will be presentable on them.'

King added, 'One thing I appreciate is that the people who come in to get clothes also bring clothes in. They figure, their kids have outgrown them, so they decide to recycle them again.'

The group got its start when a group of church members decided they wanted to do something to help their fellow church members and the community at large.

'Two ladies felt that the Lord wanted them to do this,' said King. 'At first, they just put out the word at church. We all cleaned out our closets, and pretty soon, we were talking to friends and neighbors and relatives.'

As the effort has continued to grow, its supporters have turned to the public for help, and to organizations in the community. In years past, Gladstone High School has held clothing drives to support the group.

King explained: 'It's grown by word of mouth - it's people helping people.'