Clothing swap event benefits out-of-work massage therapist

We’ve all had to clean out our closets, but for one Chestnut Hill woman, that chore became a way to fundraise for a bevy of good causes.

Julie Angel began raising money for various charities several years ago by organizing “clothing swaps,” which enlists women to clean out their closets of unwanted clothes, shoes, handbags and other accessories, and bring them to ‘swap’ with one another.

“I got the idea while walking on the beach one day,” said Angel, “I wanted to find a way to bring women together, have fun and do something positive.”

For a small donation (about $5 or more), attendees can peruse through items brought by other women and find new items for their closet. When the event concludes, extra clothing is given to drop-off clothing organizations. The proceeds go towards a selected charity.

This Saturday, a “swap” event was held to benefit Angel, who recently injured her wrist while carrying her bicycle. The incident left Angel out-of-work from her job as a massage therapist.

Terry Halbert, Angel’s friend and client, said she wanted to coordinate a benefit at a time when Angel needed it the most.

“Julie has done so much to organize these events,” said Halbert, who held the ‘swap’ at her home in Chestnut Hill. “We wanted to give back to her.”

Outreach and networking

Angel held her first clothing swap at a warehouse in Fort Washington, Pa. in 2004. More than 100 women from all over the Philadelphia region attended.

Since then, she’s seen similar “swap” events crop up throughout the area. Angel said there are always unique items to take home. A black spaghetti-strap dance dress is among her favorites – she loves to dance.

” We’re repurposing things, making friends and sharing with our community,” said Angel, noting that the events have the potential to raise thousands of dollars.

Leah Weisman of Elkins Park, who attended Saturday’s “swap,” said she views these events as a way to connect with other women.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to network,” said Weisman. “I’ve met some amazing women at these things. We’re supporting each other and we’re having fun doing it.”

Another attendee, Maria Star, of Doylestown, said there’s a sense of camaraderie in the air while participants scan over items.

“We shop with each other,” said Star. “We’ll ask each other how things look; we have fun with each other. You get to clean out your closet and try new fashions. It’s the best way to shop.”

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