Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 25, 2013

Finding the hidden money in your rags

Charles Romans
The Independent

GREENUP — Today’s society is one of single use items such as Styrofoam cups, disposable bottles and junk mail. Items such as worn bath towels, torn jeans or other clothes, which no longer fit or that have gone out of style, are routinely discarded.

But is everything that’s thrown away actually trash? Helping Hands of Greenup has found a way to turn at least some of that trash into treasure, of sorts, and change waste into something of worth to the community.

Helping Hands in downtown Greenup is encouraging community members to bring inworn, torn and damaged clothes for their rag drive. The organization has an arrangement with a company in North Carolina that provides an empty trailer for the rags and books, then returns to collect them when the trailer has been filled. The collection is then recycled by the textile industry, and eventually the material is used to manufacture new items. Recycling such as this is part of what makes possible the portion of clothing tags that read “recycled materials.”

“We want to let people know that we can use not only their used clothes, but the rags, too,” said Helping Hands Director Debbie Blevins. “A lot of times, when people sort out clothes to donate, they just throw the rags away. But they can put them in a bag and write ‘rags’ on them and we will take those as well. And though I hate to throw out books, if they are beyond use then bring them to us instead of just throwing them away. There are a lot of things that we can use that most people throw out.”

So far the organization has raised around $1,700 by selling the rags and old books that community members have donated to the ongoing program. The money raised by the rag drive is applied to the many other programs like utility assistance, food and clothing that Helping Hands operates to benefit community members in need. Items can be donated from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Greenup office, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at the South Shore office.

Blevins encourages everyone to think before they throw things away. Helping Hands accepts many different types of donations that can be repurposed to benefit families and individuals in the community in many ways.

What might seems of no value might be made of use to others, Blevins said.