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A Trabajar clothing bank offers free items to public

September 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the economy still lagging and California's unemployment rate still stuck in double digits, it's not hard to find people like East L.A. resident Jenit Lucero.

"I don't have a job and only my husband pays all bills, rent, food, so it's very tough," said Lucero.

The Los Angeles area has several charities that give needy people free food. But Gabriel Buelna points out the lack of charities that focus on giving out free clothing.

This summer Buelna opened a clothing bank in Boyle Heights that he named A Trabajar (Spanish for "To work"). The A Trabajar Clothing Bank opens its doors to the public every Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. On those days, Buelna says, more than a hundred people show up to pick through the racks of shirts, pants, shoes and other clothing items.

"Anyone, just anyone can come to us and get five clothing items for babies, infants, seniors, anyone, five items per person absolutely for free," said Buelna.

Carol Hernandez came to pick up outfits for the Church of the Nazarene, the charity she works with. She says getting people back to work is a lot easier when they have the right kind of clothes to wear.

"There's suits here that have been donated, jackets, blazers, so a lot of times they don't have clothes that they need in order to go to job interviews, and things like that," said Hernandez.

Even though A Trabajar is only a few months old, the people behind it are already thinking big. They want to take this from a local charity to a global one.

"Let's say there is an emergency in Chile, there was an earthquake, or in Haiti: Well, OK, we have immediate access to thousands of clothing items," said Buelna. "All we need is donors to ship it off into cargo."

But for now A Trabajar's need for expansion is overshadowed by the needs of the local community that it's helping clothe, five items at a time.

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