Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Sivan 5766 - June 8, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Turn Trash into Treasure
by Dena Neuman

My friend runs a clothing Gemach, and I'm one of her good customers. There is nothing new or interesting about shopping in a Gemach — unless you haven't been to one. If you haven't for some reason, I definitely recommend giving it a try. No, it is not just for charity cases. Some of the clothing is in lovely condition, ready to wear, but sometimes needing a bit of attention — just like a real store! Okay, it is a different kind of attention, but really what is the difference between having to wash something out and sew on a button, which can happen in a Gemach, and needing to make a hem or fitting adjustment, which can happen in a store? In both cases, you need to work a bit.

Sometimes, you can even find matching items, if you enjoy dressing your children in that way. If you are able to sew, Gemach shopping is a real boon. You cannot beat the price for buttons, trim, and zippers. It may still be on the clothing, but in case you worry about cutting up something that someone else can use, relax. You can double check with the manager, but I have found that they have tons of clothing and are thrilled when the merchandise moves. If you are still worried, ask the manager when they get rid of their current stock. Most gemachim have monthly clearance sales, after which they dispose of leftovers. You can shop right before that day or on that day, and be assured that you are not depriving anyone of anything.

But there is more that can be gotten out of a Gemach, I discovered recently. When I saw all of the clothing that had been rejected from the store, and were slated for trash, I offered to take bags home, one at a time, and cut off the buttons. Then the Gemach could sell bags of buttons, pieces of elastic, shoulder pads, trims, whatever I would be able to salvage. As I headed home with my children, my four-year- old daughter, Raizy, wanted to know what I had gotten her at the Gemach. Really, I hadn't even looked for her, because her closet area is full, but I told her that I had a whole big bag from which she could pick out whatever she liked.

We came home and took out scissors and sandwich bags, and began to mine the treasure trove. Raizy had the job of taking items out of the bag. We couldn't stop laughing as she tried on various ladies clothing and proudly proclaimed, "Doesn't this fit me perfectly?'

There were some things that I told her we could wash up and keep, so she was very accepting when I told her that an item was good for buttons only. When that verdict was delivered, I had children waiting their turn to begin removing buttons. They worked carefully and thoroughly, checking sleeves and pockets for more buttons. As soon as a garment was finished, the buttons were bagged and the bag was knotted.

We still had to determine if the material could be used for a craft project or could make a good rag. Unfortunately, when we finished we had quite a bit to throw out. Some things truly are valueless! But we were left with fresh disposable rags and some lovely pieces of fabric which we hope will be suitable for learning how to sew, making doll clothing, pillowcases, Purim and play costumes, crafted pictures and . . . well, I know that we'll get more ideas as we pass by that bag of material, and get inspired.

Dinner had been warming up while we had been playing, that is, working, so we put all the sorted bags where they belonged and ate. I was amazed to realize what a pleasurable hour we had spent together, and was pleased with my new stockpile of material. Yes, I was helping the Gemach by giving them buttons to sell, but the biggest treasure of all was the fun we had, while doing a chessed and learning about finding valuables in unexpected places.

P.S. Is this an idea for a fun camp or home summer activity?

[Ed. Beged Yad L'Yad has been bagging buttons for a decade. We pride ourself on our buttonladies. One is a nonegenarian wife of a late Knesset Member, another is a retired librarian- teacher. As for the buttons — yes, they do go for crafts projects, among other uses, especially for special ed. classes! How's that for buttons-up-manship?]


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