Despite closed doors, church clothes the poor

The Episcopal Church of the Atonement, located at 36 Court St., is seeking clothing donations to be distributed by St. Pauly Textile. Donors are asked to bag their donated clothing items and leave in the clothing shed. (THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE ATONEMENT PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – Cleaning out your closet? Spring cleaning?
The Episcopal Church of the Atonement, located at 36 Court St., has extended an invitation to the public, seeking clothing donations.
“Americans discard clothes at an enormous rate,” Episcopal Church of the Atonement Rev. Nancy Webb Stroud said. “People need these clothes all around the world…Instead of going into a landfill, these (items) are going to people who need clothes.”
Episcopal Church of the Atonement is currently accepting clothing, shoes, sneakers, belts, purses, blankets, sheets, drapes, linens, pillowcases and stuffed animals. Donors are asked to place their donated item or items into a tied plastic bag and put it into the clothing shed opening in the parking lot off of Pleasant Street. A box on the shed contains receipts for tax deductions.
The church receives a nominal financial reimbursement from St. Pauly Textile, of Western New York, based on the number of bags that the company picks up. The used clothing is then distributed in the United States and to more than 44 countries worldwide.
In 2017, St. Pauly Textile delivered more than 20.1 million garments which clothed an estimated 2.4 million people around the world, according to company officials.
“This is just a small part of what we do here at the church,” Rev. Webb Stroud said.
The Episcopal Church of the Atonement also stocks its red cupboard with food donations from the Westfield Food Pantry, making that available for parishioners and the general public. A food drive will be held Sat., May 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
With the building closed due to the pandemic, until at least July 1st according to Rev. Webb Stroud, the church has turned to various forms of online worship and pastoral help over the phone. Church officials also sent out a needs assessment sheet to parish members asking them their needs ranging from anything from toilet paper to a phone call to discuss a personal situation during these times of extended isolation.
“We found the ratio of people who wanted to help those people to those who needed help was 7-to-1,” Rev. Webb Stroud said. “People were very eager to help people in need. …Our building is closed so that we can take care of each other … but the church is the people.”
For more information regarding these or any other programs, visit The Episcopal Church of the Atonement online at www.atonementwestfield.net.

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