Friday, May 21, 2010

Hangin' with clothes

Marcy Bruhl, manager
at Pendleton Woolen Mills
in Rochester.

After driving for forty minutes through heavy traffic and construction zones, I finally made it to Rochester to pitch in for an Assistance League endeavor.

The Assistance League raises funds — mainly through its resale store, Resale Connection — for philanthropic projects. Money raised is spent on efforts including Operation School Bell, which provides new winter wardrobes for children in need. Other funds are sent to provide assault survivor kits for rape victims. The league also spends time tutoring school children.

On this day, the league had teamed up with a Rochester boutique, Pendleton Woolen Mills, to raise money to help fund these programs. Through Saturday, May 22, shoppers may bring in three items of gently worn clothing and receive 20 percent off their purchase.

Rochester is a happening town. But on this hot, muggy Thursday evening, Pendleton was not. When I walked in, I was greeted by Lorna Salmon from the league and Mary Bruhl, the store manager. The store was full of colorful spring outfits, but no customers.

Mary cares deeply for her community. She not only teamed up with the Assistance League, but also with WHOO U R Upscale Resale for a Cause this same weekend. When one lone customer came in, Mary let her know that she would hold the customer’s items if she wanted to come back later with a donation. She also called regular customers, more than two hundred, to let them know about the promotion.

As nice as it was to talk to Mary and Lorna for an hour, I wondered if I made a mistake coming this day. This is the problem I have run into on my quest.

I had been contacted by an Assistance League member to volunteer after I had asked readers where I could help out next. I was under the impression that my time was needed for this event. But it seems the lines get blurred between my job and my blog. Everyone wants to be recognized, and the Assistance League is a worthy cause, but it didn’t need me this Thursday night. And after working a split shift at The Oakland Press and spending an hour in my car in order to help out, I felt pretty damn useless.

As I left Pendleton, not having talked to one customer, I seriously thought about getting a mani/pedi for thirty-five dollars that I saw advertised at a nearby salon. At least then I could have an experience — even if it wasn’t for a cause other than vanity. Instead, I trudged back to my car, and drove back into the headache of cars and chaos to finish up laying out pages for Sunday's paper.

So, in a selfish plea, I ask shoppers to please visit Pendleton to donate clothes, or check out the Assistance League at

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