Clothing charity seeks new site

EVERETT – An Everett clothing charity burned out by an arsonist nearly two years ago is trying to find a new home.

The Clothesline, which served up to 60 families a week, was destroyed Sept. 18, 2002. A bag of donated clothing was apparently set on fire near the front door.

The blaze spread to the rest of the building at 2720 Seventh St., consuming racks of shirts, shoes, pants and baby clothing and accessories.

The fire “robbed many people of that connection and care. That’s what broke our hearts the most,” director Pat Gorney said. “We always believed we’d start it up again.”

The nonprofit organization started searching for a site last month to bring back The Clothesline. Organizers hope to find a free or low-cost building, preferably in Everett, with plenty of storage.

The Everett Housing Authority provided its former home on Seventh Street for six years for free, Gorney said, and donations paid other bills.

“Because we lost everything, we’re starting from scratch,” said Dave Bennett, president of the nonprofit organization’s board. “(But) there’s still a need out there, and we want to fill it.”

People from as far away as Olympia and Bellingham would come to The Clothesline for clothes, shoes and other items, he said.

“It was always so fun to be able to see someone walk in with a special need and be able to fill it,” he said. “I just can’t figure out why someone would set our house on fire.”

No one was ever arrested in the case, but fire investigators say it does not appear to be connected to a string of recent arsons in the north Everett area, police said.

Gorney said she’s often asked when The Clothesline will reopen. It’s been “collecting a little at a time to help pay for necessities,” she said, including donations for rent.

She’s hoping that its new site will be able to help more families, stay open later and work closely with other agencies that aid needy families. “In our economy most of us have so much and often go shopping for new clothes,” she said.

“There are people who don’t have that advantage, people who work two jobs and don’t have money left over at the end of the month for shoes for the kids … We need to be there to help them.”

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