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Ministry launches clothing program
The Rev. Wright Culpepper, executive director of FaithWorks Ministries, wants your clothes.

Dirty, ripped, any condition, there's more use in those old torn T-shirts.

The ecumenical organization is embarking on a new project - a textile recycling program that will have local, national and international impact.

FaithWorks will take used clothing and textiles, like blankets, and put them to good use.

"Right now, about 85 percent of people's clothes end up in a landfill because they don't think they can donate something that's torn or worn. They don't think there's value," Culpepper said. "But it can become something else.

"Almost 100 percent of what goes into this recycling pipeline gets reused."

At the local level, Culpepper says the organization will take donated clothing and textiles that are wearable and partner with local thrift shops such as Hello Goodbuy.

He's hoping to create a new partnership with mutual benefits.

"For example, if one thrift store said we need little girl dresses, we'd look through the stuff that comes to us and provide that to them if they'd like. Hopefully in exchange they'll give us the collections of stuff they're not using," Culpepper said. "We can help them get rid of stuff taking up space and provide things they need."

The surplus re-usable clothing and textiles FaithWorks receives from donations and thrift shops will be sold to a broker in the textile recycling industry. Culpepper says from there, the broker deals on an international scale with other organizations, some for-profit, that help provide vendors in developing nations with goods to sell.

"There might be a street vendor in some West African nation or South American city that will eventually get these clothes to get themselves started," he said.

For the things that can't be worn again, Culpepper says whatever can be salvaged, like zippers and buttons, will be removed and the cloth repurposed. Some of the clothes will go to a company that makes rags and some will go to a company that shreds it up for the automotive industry, which turns into insulation.

"We're confident that the people we're dealing with are reputable and the product will get to where it needs to go. We're happy to be a part of that and hopefully we can get as much clothing donated as possible," Culpepper said. "With the proceeds (we earn), we'd like to use them for homeless needs and other poverty issues."

FaithWorks is seeking help from organizations like churches and businesses. Three locations on St. Simons Island have already committed to having a donation box, Culpepper said. All three locations associated with FaithWorks will also have one.

"We can take clothes now at Sparrows Nest, 2911 Altama Ave., but later this summer, collection boxes will begin to appear across Southeast Georgia," he said. "We are interested in partnering with thrift shops in McIntosh, Brantley and Camden counties, too."

By mid-June, Culpepper is hoping to have both a physical location to store the donated items as well as a staff of dedicated volunteers.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

Breakout:

Those wanting to volunteer can contact Vic Riden at vic@faithworksministry.org. Those interested in helping to coordinate activities related to textile recycling - thrift shop relations, marketing, collection box host site relations, development, etc. - can contact Burke Goodson at burke@faithworksministry.org.



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