Clothing, furniture donations boost YMCA programs

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As YMCA members filtered into the Kent County branch Wednesday morning, one in every 4 or 5 drivers pulling in was there to make donations to the bins set up in the parking lot.

The YMCA has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island to collect donations from the public and raise funds for the Kent YMCA.

This is the deal: people bring donations, from clothes to small furniture to anything else they don’t need any more, and drop them off at the bins set up in the Kent parking lot. The Big Brothers Big Sisters of RI then comes by in the morning to load donations into their vans. They take the donations to Savers thrift store, which have 6 locations in the area, and sell all the goods to them. The YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters split the profits.

“Everything we get in profit comes back into the YMCA,” said Kent director of operations Julie Casimiro. “Our check for the last quarter was $800, which all went into YMCA funding.”

Casimiro, who is also a State Representative in North Kingstown, oversees the operation and makes sure to get the word out to members and the public about the endeavor.

Margaret Provoyeuer, the business manager of the Kent YMCA, said that checks from Savers could range from $800 in some quarters up to $1800.

James Juskalian, who picks up the donations for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said that donations range from clothes most of the time to small furniture to fish bowls, and everything in between.

“Savers has six stores and they take everything,” Juskalian said. “Whatever they don’t think they can sell they’ll ship to other countries where those clothes might be needed.”

Despite the volume of donations that can be seen outside the bins every morning, Juskalian, who has been doing this for years, said donations could be higher.

“The bins used to be right out on the street [Centerville Road], but the city asked for them to be moved because of a zoning issue,” he said. That was more than five years ago.

“The bins are kind of hidden,” said Casimiro. “But we still get donations every day.” Casimiro aims to see if the bins could be relocated so as to increase donations.

Also helping to fund the YMCA was a golf tournament, raffle, and silent auction held September 25 at Alpine Country Club, put on by the YMCAs of Great Providence. Casimiro said that more than $150,000 was raised from the event attended by former Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel.

“There were three or four hundred people at the dinner,” said Casimiro. “And the golf tournament of 38 foursomes was sold out…Everything for the raffle and silent auction were donated or on consignment…It was packed, packed, packed.”

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