Benefiting others with marathoners' castoffs

Merion Mercy student Madi Resnic (third from left) and classmates with T-shirts. Resnic was 9 when she and her father started collecting.
Merion Mercy student Madi Resnic (third from left) and classmates with T-shirts. Resnic was 9 when she and her father started collecting. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 17, 2013

When the Philadelphia Marathon is in full swing Sunday, Michael Resnic and his teenage daughter will be marking a milestone in what may be one of the world's most unusual clothing-collection drives.

It was six years ago on a blustery November morning, while watching the annual race with her father, that a 9-year-old Madi Resnic noticed something peculiar about the runners. As they heated up, they were peeling off gear - sweats, shirts, hats, and gloves.

So she and her father grabbed trash bags from their Logan Square-area home and started collecting the discards to donate to the poor.

Thus was born an idea that grew into Clothes-Pin - Clothes for People in Need - a nonprofit run by the Resnics that has collected 100,000 items to donate to homeless shelters.

"We started taking what was being thrown out and making it something that people could benefit from," said Madi Resnic, now 15.

"Now people throw us their clothes," said Michael Resnic, 48. "We are known to the running community in Philadelphia."

The Resnics are leading a team of 50 volunteers along the 26.2-mile route with the goal of beating last year's collection of 15,000 articles.

"The fact that we got to 100,000 pieces is mind-boggling to me," said Madi Resnic.

Over the years, the duo and their volunteers have learned a bit about efficiency. The keys are to be on site early and use clear trash bags so that the contents aren't mistaken for garbage or security risks. Also, it's critical to opt for thick bags that won't rip apart.

"We used to have thin bags," said Michael Resnic, "and it was a disaster."

Perhaps the biggest change has been the scale of their operation, the Resnics said.

Clothes-Pin now works at races in Bethlehem, Pa.; Washington; Atlantic City; and Baltimore. Next year, the Resnics plan to be at the Boston Marathon.

The clothing is donated to the community in which it is collected.

"There are plenty of great organizations that ship things overseas," said Michael Resnic, "but there is a need everywhere."

The Resnics' efforts have expanded to sneaker collections at a variety of racing events, including the Phillies 5K and Flyers 5K. They also have formed a partnership with Athleta, which has Clothes-Pin drop-off sites at retail outlets in Philadelphia and King of Prussia.

Runners have tougher standards for shoes than most people, the Resnics pointed out, and abandon them after 300 to 500 miles.

"To a runner, they might not be in good shape," said Madi Resnic, "but they can be worn by someone who is in need."

Clothes-Pin is looking to work on a citywide clothing collection for Martin Luther King Day.

"We hope to spread the word and continue to have it grow," Madi Resnic said.

Clothing donations from the Philadelphia Marathon are made to the Bethesda Project, a homeless shelter in South Philadelphia. About a third of the volunteers will be from the shelter, which helps to collect every year.

Another third will consist of Madi Resnic's friends and classmates from Merion Mercy Academy.

"Madi's willingness to invite other students at Merion Mercy into her project, her enthusiasm, and the support of her father is so special," said Kristina Cawley, director of communications at the school.

Said Madi Resnic: "The connections we make through these clothes that are essentially trash to other people are really special."


BY THE NUMBERS

100,000

Articles of discarded clothing collected by Michael and Madi Resnic

at Philadelphia Marathons

since 2007.

3,000

Volunteers

to be on hand.

30,000

Runners entered.

60,000

Spectators expected

along the course.


akuhn@phillynews.com

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|