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Community, Kindness And Free Stuff
Mommy Musings 8-23-23

There’s something special about this town.

Those who are active in this community chime this all the time. Geez, people in line at the grocery store may even share the same sentiments in random conversation.

As school is back in session, our weather shows us a different side of its personality and the seasonal buzz of all that’s to come has begun one can’t help but feel the energy in the air.

What’s most impressive about this community (to me) is the giving nature of so many who have all somehow landed in one shared zip code. Whether it be through service clubs, support of kids’ sports programs, neighborhood book drops or GoFundMe’s for a community member in the season of struggle this town shows up.

In complete honesty it’s one of the highlights of this job, as we get to see it and learn more about the “how” and the “why” time and time again.

As I type this our family is busy loading my son’s car to take several large hefty bags of clothing to the Gene Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale for the Sixth Annual Community Clothes Closet. For those who missed the previous story or are not on social media, it’s an annual clothes swap of sorts except there’s just one thing. One doesn’t have to donate clothes to take clothes. You also don’t have to have an income requirement or “need” per se.

The Annual Community Clothes Closet is quite simply community members donating clothes which are “up for grabs” for anyone who’s up for a little free, yes free, shopping.

There is no limit on how much one can take. Matter of fact when I spoke with Mayor Bairos recently, who happens to be one of the founding members of the event, she shared some bring suitcases to load up and make the haul away all the easier.

Sound crazy? Greedy perhaps? Not to worry. The organizers shared with me earlier this month that each year, regardless of how much or how little individuals take there are always clothes left over at the end of the event. Leftover clothing is donated to church groups, shelters and other non-profits who express a need.

For those interested in donating your window is quickly closing. Donations are being accepted this week from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with the final day being Thursday, August 24. Drive up service at the Community Center makes it all the easier.

Those interested in doing a little FREE shopping, doors open at 9 a.m. and close at noon on Saturday, August 26. There is no fee to enter. All are welcome to bring their own bags for shopping, however bags will be provided for those who may need them. Clothing donations will not be accepted that day. Financial donations are not really talked about by the group, but those are welcome.

The sponsoring group of the event, Oakdale Enrichment Society, hosts a number of events within the community annually and to date does not host an annual fundraiser as most do. So, anyone walking away feeling like making a little donation as a thank you; I’d personally encourage that.

Further in the name of giving and kindness in the community, I have to give a mention to the Oakdale Free/Helping Hands Facebook Page.

I first learned of the page earlier this year when we were moving our office and needed to purge some things. Moving into a new space, we also found we needed a few things and lo and behold were fortunate enough to gain some art work and even a book case for our new cozy home office. Truth be told, it took some time for me to wrap my mind around this “free” concept. I mean what was the catch? Thanks to my office mates I slowly learned there wasn’t one. It’s simply a modern day/on-line swap meet of sorts. Community members purging things and offering them up before they hit the garbage can or donation box.

Mid-summer as our family acquired a little family getaway home, I quickly turned to the page to help stock our kitchen with the essentials; could I be so lucky? I was. One person’s old china, drinking glasses and mixing bowls slowly and separately found their way on the page and I was the chosen lucky recipient. Score.

Not the best at reading the fine print, I did end up finding myself in a “for free jail” of sorts as I was forbidden from claiming anything for a week. Apparently, I had claimed too many items – which weren’t many quite honestly and some had been there for days so I figured why not. But all is fair in the name of Admin and Rules and there’s a sort of fairness that’s trying to be upheld, which I understand.

Once out of “jail” I too offered some things up, in the true swap spirit. The week break gave me ample opportunity to look around my own cupboards and assess “do I really need this.”

The things which grace the page can range from a set of tea cups to a couch, there’s just no telling and if you’re in the right place at the right time you may be the lucky taker.

Most recently I was even able to score some hangers for the group of the above-mentioned Clothes Closet event; perfect.

At the end of it all, I guess this is a long-winded way to give a little plug to two services which are doing great things in our town. It’s also a way I guess to offer words of pride for a community of selfless individuals who give freely and rally when needed for the betterment of one another. What’s not to love about that?


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.