Thousands of people received free clothing, books and toys on Dec. 6 at the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles’ (NCJW/LA) annual clothing giveaway.
For many recipients, the event is the only way they will receive new clothing during the holiday season and the only way they can offer gifts to young family members. Fairfax District resident Mona Makary, who filled multiple bags with apparel and stuffed animals, said she is very thankful for NCJW/LA.
“God bless these good people who give me this good stuff,” said Makary, who formerly worked in the cafeteria at Fairfax High School before retirement. “I need it very much. I keep some for my family and give some to people in my church.”
Makary’s son, Philip Joseph, a resident of Downey, added that the clothing giveaway is a lifeline for his mother and his family.
“It’s Christmas time and everybody should be giving,” Joseph said. “The stuff they are giving away is awesome. I can’t believe they can give away so much good stuff.”
NCJW/LA has held the clothing giveaway at its council house at 543 N. Fairfax Ave. for the past 15 years, said NCJW/LA executive director Hillary Selvin. The clothing is procured from the council’s eight thrift shops and donations from the public. Recipients are invited to the event through local community service agencies, homeless shelters and battered women’s facilities. People began lining up on Fairfax Avenue the night before the giveaway.
“The need is always growing. Unfortunately in today’s world, things are not going good for a lot of people,” Selvin said. “To provide clothes to the community, especially for seniors, it helps uplift them for the holidays.”
Robert Klausner, director of retail operations for NCJW/LA, said approximately 3,000 to 4,000 people receive clothing every year during the giveaway.
“[It was] an amazing day, as always. It’s gotten bigger and bigger every year,” Klausner said. “More and more people need it. It’s amazing for the people, it’s amazing for the community. It’s very important that people remember to donate so we can hold events like this.”
West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, and Los Angeles City Councilmen Paul Koretz and David Ryu, attended the event, which also includes a resource fair wher service providers share information. Ryu helped participants select clothing from piles of apparel stacked on tables in the council house parking lot. He said he is pleased NCJW/LA assists people in the community and added that the organization serves as a model.
“Especially during the holidays, during a time of giving, it is important to help the less fortunate,” Ryu said. “But it’s not just during the holidays, it’s year-round. There is a need throughout the year, and we should use these opportunities to help educate the public. We need to teach the next generation to get involved. It’s a teaching moment.”
Selvin added that approximately 200 people volunteered for the clothing giveaway, and she thanked them for helping make the event possible. She added that sales from the Council Thrift Shops help fund NCJW/LA services for women children and families, including a talkline, community mental health and support services, and youth educational programs.
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