Unity Center's Circulation Day offers free items donated by public

by: TIDINGS FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Rev. Victoria Etchemendy has helped organize the Unity Center's annual Circulation Day for years, calling it a fall harvest. For the Rev. Victoria Etchemendy, the meaning behind the Unity Center’s Circulation Day has little to do with the total number of items distributed each year or how much they might be worth.

Rather, it’s the little things — the personal moments when she sees people in need find exactly what they were looking for. There was the woman who found a perfect set of skis for the 6-foot-2-inch frame of a friend who had been injured in the Afghanistan War; the man who needed a suit for a job interview and walked away with three of them; the four foster mothers who cried when they found clothes for their babies.

These are the fruits of what Etchemendy calls a “fall harvest” at the Unity Center in West Linn. Circulation Day, which takes place this year on Saturday, has been an annual tradition in Lake Oswego and West Linn for more than 20 years. The concept is simple: Like a garage sale, the Unity Center collects any and all items that are in good, workable condition — the kicker being that all of those items are then distributed for free to anyone who stops by.

“Instead of going to a dump, it gets recycled and recirculated,” Etchemendy said. “We really have become a society where we have more than we need, and it becomes an overwhelming responsibility to take care of it all. So this is one way to move it on.”

The distribution of items is not income-based; the event is simply a chance for community members to take part in their own personal treasure hunt.

“Maybe your crock pot broke and you need a new one,” Etchemendy said. “It’s so much fun to help people find that treasure. We have things that have barely been used.”

In past years, the Unity Center has seen donations ranging from refrigerators to washers and dryers, clothing, furniture and bicycles. The center also works with the West Linn Food Pantry, Head Start and local foster families to help the agencies find specific items of need.

For larger appliances or furniture, donors are asked to bring a photo of the item and interested parties can make pickup arrangements from there.

The event is held annually around the time school starts, so parents in need can find children’s clothes or jackets for the colder months.

The Unity Center, located at 20255 Willamette Drive, is taking donations today from 4 to 7 p.m., as well as Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The “shopping” on Circulation Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 503-697-9765 or visit

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