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Clothing drive to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy
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Bronwyn Hairston stands Monday in front of some of the clothing items that were donated to a clothing drive she organized for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Hairston said more than 2,500 items were donated, then sorted and packaged by volunteers inside the former Holt building on East Church Street. (Bulletin photo by Sam Jackson)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

By SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Bronwyn Hairston knows a thing or two about community involvement. As Miss Martinsville-Henry County, it’s part of her job description. So the more she heard about the struggles of people in the Northeast affected by Superstorm Sandy, the more motivated she felt to get involved.

“I have a lot of friends in the New York/New Jersey areas,” she said. “As Miss Martinsville-Henry County, my first thought is volunteerism, so my thought was to help out those who have been impacted.”

Knowing that many have been left homeless or had their homes severely damaged in the storm, many in the region now face the onset of winter without sufficient clothing. With that in mind, Hairston decided to organize a clothing drive for those in need.

Hairston said some of her friends in the Northeast have gone without power for two weeks at a time. “Most of us can’t imagine going without power for a day,” she said.

Hairston’s mother, Renay Hairston, said Bronwyn came to her with the idea shortly after the hurricane hit, and she encouraged her daughter to act immediately.

“I said, ‘If you’ve got it in your mind, why don’t you use your platform (as Miss Martinsville-Henry County)?’” she said.

To spread the word about the event, Hairston placed flyers at churches around the area and used word-of-mouth. Word spread so quickly, in fact, that by the time Hairston arrived at the former Holt building the day donations first were to be accepted, two garbage bags full of clothes were waiting at the door.

Volunteers finished taking donations on Friday. “We have so much that things have to be sorted and sized. We have a lot of donations,” she said, adding that there were at least 2,500 items of clothing, shoes, blankets or toys to be shipped. “Our goal was 1,000,” she said.

She said the greatest need was for plus sizes and men’s clothing. “I realized not a lot of men donate clothes,” Hairston said. “We’ve had plenty of girls and women’s clothes.”

Having a larger number of women’s clothes is not unusual, Hairston discovered. “I think women like to shop and be clothes hoarders. Men, I guess they don’t shop as often and they wear their clothes out,” she said.

Volunteers gathered Monday night at the Holt building to continue sorting and packaging the items. In addition to clothes, shoes, blankets and toys also were given.

Kris Covington of Martinsville was among those who helped fold, sort and box the clothes for shipment. Covington, a retired teacher at Stanleytown Elementary School, said she had the time available to help, so when she was asked to help, she was glad to do so. She also praised Bronwyn Hairston’s assertiveness to get the project done.

“This is really a blessing to see someone so young organize this,” she said. “This is just wonderful.”

The volunteers boxed items by category and then prepared to send them to God’s Pit Crew in Danville, which was then to ship them to the Northeast, Hairston said.

“We just called them and said ‘This is what we want to do,’ and they agreed,” she said, adding that all the clothes are being sent to the Northeast.

Hairston said that since the group has use of the Holt building throughout December, it’s possible they will hold another clothing drive should the demand be great enough.

Either way, Hairston said she was grateful to have had the opportunity to help those affected by the so-called Superstorm. Also, she said, she was happy to see the people of a community facing its own challenges come together and put the needs of others first.

“It was a great thing to make people in Martinsville-Henry County aware” and meet a need, she said.


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