Love INC has long been in the business of helping people, but until this year, it had never brought a clothing closet to the HEART to Heart Resource Fair.
The faith-based nonprofit has a 20-foot cargo trailer it fills with clothing and takes wherever it's needed, said Deb Powell, Love INC executive director. This year, someone suggested the trailer come to the resource fair Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Albany.
That was fine by Juana Cortez of Albany, who spent part of her noon hour browsing the clothing racks. She didn't find any keepers, but said she was glad her friend had invited her to the fair anyway. "There's a lot of people; we get to be with each other," she said through an interpreter.
The HEART to Heart Resource Fair is now in its 13th year. Organized by Albany's Homeless Engagement and Resource Team, which is where it gets its name, the fair brings together a variety of community resource organizations to offer haircuts, dental treatment, eyeglasses, pet supplies, new socks and more to low-income or homeless residents.
As of shortly after noon on Thursday, more than 150 people had browsed dozens of information booths, from Linn County Mental Health to Jackson Street Youth Shelter to Kidco Head Start to the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence.
Missy Chavez, who came with her daughter Chloe Thaxton, 1, was particularly glad to stop by the Linn Benton Housing Authority booth for information on low-income housing.
"We live in a shelter and we're trying to get out," she said, adding that she still had several booths to visit. "I'm still doing my rounds."
Jason Dickerson said he'd come to the fair once before and was glad to take advantage of its services. He said he'd love to see the fair last longer into the afternoon, or maybe held more than once per year.
"If you're a street person, there's no reason you can't come here and get cleaned up," he said. "All these representatives, I do appreciate."
One of Dickerson's favorite stops was at the booth sponsored by First Christian Church, another first-timer at the resource fair. The church holds a free community dinner each Tuesday, where it also gives out packs of personal hygiene supplies, and decided this year to bring those packs to the fair.
Volunteer Rey Woitt said he got the idea because his mother, Pam Woitt, a teacher at the Periwinkle Center, always spoke highly of her time at the fair with the Kidco booth.
"I always remember her coming home and saying, 'It was a big day, but I'm glad I'm doing it,'" Rey Woitt said. "We thought our booth would be a good fit."
Both First Christian and Love INC said they'd be back again next year, joining more than four dozen other organizations offering items and information.
"It gets all the services that are in the community in one place, under one roof, at least for one day," said Dina Eldridge of the Community Services Consortium. "We love that we get lots of veterans services, and Legal Aid shows up, and we're here — sometimes, they might know about us. This is a way for them to see about a lot of different services in one day, and make connections."