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South Navarro business gives away clothes to those in need (w/video)

By JR Ortega
Dec. 13, 2013 at 6:13 a.m.
Updated Dec. 14, 2013 at 6:14 a.m.

Volunteers Gloria Hernandez, of Victoria, left, and Barbara Thomas, of Victoria, right, sort clothing to hang up at Free Clothes Giveaway on South Navarro Street in Victoria. Free Clothes Giveaway is open  Fridays and Saturdays when anyone can come in and take whatever they need.

The broken, brick-laid porch shows the faded freemason symbol at the entrance of the old Masonic Lodge on South Navarro Street.

Inside, there is no working electricity, and the ceiling tiles are few and far between, but it is what is happening inside the usually vacant building that has Wilma Edwards happy.

For five years, Edwards, along with several volunteers, has opened the old wooden doors to the public, offering free clothes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

And while the donations keep coming in, the need is even higher now with holidays around the corner, she said.

"There is always a need," Edwards said as her volunteers stooped over bags and boxes, folding and unpacking clothes. "The need hasn't stopped so far."

The idea started about five years ago, she said, although she can't remember how it got started or whose idea it really was because it was a group effort.

She started by volunteering at the shop, which was located elsewhere at that point, and now, five years later, it has grown so much, she said.

"It may not be much, but everyone is welcome," she said.

Clothes racks and old shaky shelves cover the floor of the lodge. Clothes of all sorts are up for grabs. The business, which she simply calls Free Clothes Giveaway, also has other items, like toys, old VHS movies and other odds and ends.

Angelic Ramos, 21, of Victoria, has visited the shop on and off for several months whenever she needs clothes for either her or her child.

"Friends had told me to come and get clothes, so I came," Ramos said in Spanish. "It's such a nice offering. It helps a lot of people."

The good feeling of helping others is one that never fades, Edwards said.

Edwards has seen people's self-esteem rise. She's had some occasional visitors who have found jobs and have gotten their lives on track, and their comments that the free clothes helped make the difference always surprises Edwards.

"That's what really encourage me," Edwards said with a smile.



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