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Marcellus' clothes closet filled to the brim

On Friday, Judy Roche opened the doors to the St. Francis Xavier Clothes Closet in Marcellus. Two bags sat in the meeting room waiting to be added to the collection. There is no room for the bagged clothes, Roche said.

There's no room because the Clothes Closet is already packed to the gills, busting at the seams with sweaters, pants, shorts, T-shirts, booties and bonnets that await families who need something warm to wear.

"It's all free ... because it's free to me," Roche said. "It's a Catholic enterprise and it's free."

While she stresses the cost, or lack thereof, the closet is there for the people who use it and would like to use it. It's also something Roche enjoys doing -- sorting, folding and hanging clothes and then seeing the people's faces when they find that perfect set of clothes.

"I wish I had more people coming in because my closet is packed," Roche said.

To some people, "packed" may be an understatement. There are narrow paths between the clothing that's set on a table in the center of the room; then there are clothing racks lined with jackets and shirts and shelving units stacked high with everything else.

"When I go to church I sometimes look in the back and there's a whole bag of clothes waiting for me," Roche said, adding that people who know what her car looks like will leave bags of clothing on the car or beside it when she's out an about. All of the clothing ends up in the closet.

"It is rewarding. It's very tiring and the bags of clothes are very heavy. I have two or three women who help who are wonderful," Roche said.

Those women include Jean Wells and Patty Bishop. Wells tends to sort through the clothing while Bishop takes time to deliver clothing to group homes, shut-ins and to the ecumenical food pantry at the Marcellus First Presbyterian Church.

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