Reusing clothes, helping families in need - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Reusing clothes, helping families in need

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- When kids grow out of their clothes, parents are left with a decision:  throw them out, or take them to a thrift or consignment store. But one woman in Dubuque is helping those in need by collecting clothes that are spending too much time on consignment shelves.

It all started when Cindy Haugen contacted a consignment store in Dubuque to see if they had any items to donate to an auction at her church. Now, every week, Cindy picks up loads of unsold clothes and gives them away to people in need.

But to understand why Haugen's garage is filled with plastic bags and rubber bins, you'll have to come to Little Folks Trading Post, a consignment store in Dubuque.

"A little girl brought in her toy and she wanted to exchange it for a simple dress that her mom couldn't afford. And that was a turning point for me," owner Roberta Cunningham said.

That's when Cunningham knew she had to do something to help families in Dubuque.

"I knew that there was a lot more meaning to the store than making money," Cunningham said.

That was just three years ago.  Since then she's relocated twice and nearly doubled her inventory.

"Sometimes there's things that we can't accept, either they're stained or torn. And some things there's things that don't sell. And so we donate them," Cunningham said.

And that's where Cindy Haugen comes into the picture.

"What I do is pick up the clothing from Little Folks and The Hanger that doesn't sell," Haugen said.

Cindy stops by the store almost every day to pick up a load of unsold clothes.

"Sometimes it's one or two bags sometimes, I think one day I picked up 42 garbage bags full of items," Haugen said.

"It is very time consuming to do but it is a very worthwhile project and worth the sacrifice of the time."

Haugen doesn't stop at giving the clothes away. She finds ways to reuse items that cant be worn. For example, old prom dresses are donated to area dance studios. And old jeans are cut and sewn together to make reusable grocery bags.

Haugen also takes uniform-approved clothing and gives them away at all Holy Family Schools for a donation to St. Vincent De Paul.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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