The Rotary Club of Newton kicked off a partnership with Helpsy, the largest clothing collection company in the Northeast, with several “Pop the Trunk” clothing drives in the city. At the first event June 5, people donated more than 4,000 pounds of textiles.
David Park, co-chair of the community services committee at the club who helped organize the first June 5 drive at the Shops at Chestnut Hill, said in an interview he was excited about the “informal partnership” between the club, Helpsy, and the city.
“We have a common goal of reducing what goes in landfills,” Park said.
Park said he is “hoping for a good turn out again,” in the next two clothing drives scheduled for Aug. 7 and Sept. 11. The drives run from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the back parking lot of The Shops at Chestnut Hill near the Hammond Pond Parkway entrance.
Laura Johanson, marketing and public relations manager for Helpsy, which is based in New York, said in an interview the company generally sees an increase in donations when “towns and cities promote” the drives. In all, the event resulted in “4,433 pounds of textiles” being “diverted from the local landfill” according to a press release from Helpsy.
Paul Loiselle, who volunteered at the event, said residents were excited because most donation centers were closed during the pandemic and people have been holding onto unwanted items for months.
“We were able to save a lot of unwanted clothes from perhaps ending up in a landfill as well as potentially offering nice clothes at a reduced cost to those who have limited income,” he said.
Dan Green, founder and chief executive officer of Helpsy, said roughly half the clothes the organization receives are resold to retailers in the United States. He said in an interview that the rest of the clothes are divided into two categories — “industrial rags” and “shoddy.” Clothing that can’t be resold but is still made of sound material is turned into “industrial rags,” he said, and the rest is deemed “shoddy” and used for carpet, furniture padding, and insulation.
Park said he saw “a lot of smiles and happy people” dropping off items.
“More than anything else there was a great sense of gratitude from our donors in the Newton Community for our efforts to support others and our environment at the same time,” said Andrew Holmes, a member of the Rotary Club of Newton.
Qiqige Wang, a Boston University journalist, contributed to this report. Ania Keenan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.