Though the event was publicized as a Halloween clothing "giveaway" in flyers distributed at schools and churches around the city, the more than 200 persons who came yesterday were not seeking masquerade costumes.
Mostly mothers and grandmothers, they scrounged through pile after pile of used garments at the "giveaway" in Southeast, pulling out hats, pants and sweaters to help shield their families from the impending winter chill. They stuffed shopping bags and paid $1 a bag.
"I'm looking for clothes that my children can wear for many years to come," Luberta Morgan said as she shopped for her three children. "I'm not ashamed of hand-me-downs. I've been getting them all of my life."
The bonanza was sponsored by the Senior Citizens Counseling and Delivery Service SCCDS at its headquarters, 2500 Martin Luther King Ave. SE.
SCCDS, a nonprofit organization, received $97,000 last year from the D.C. Office on Aging and the United Black Fund. It provides free food, recreation and other services to elderly people who live in Southeast Washington.
Concha Johnson, executive director of SCCDS, said churches, schools, civic groups and individuals contributed 60,000 pounds of clothing and shoes for yesterday's "giveaway." There were enough garments and shoes of various sizes to stock makeshift "men's" "women's" and "children's" departments in the front and rear of the white brick building at Howard Road and Martin Luther King Avenue SE.
The crowd, many of them elderly, talked of hard economic times and the international events of the week.
"All President Reagan wants to do is start a war. He doesn't care about the poor people," griped one 65-year-old women who asked not to be named, as she garnered two suits for her disabled husband.
Morgan had two of her children, Michael, 4, and Kimberly, 2, beside her as she searched for clothes. She said the handsome beige jacket and orange corduroy pants Michael wore were handed down from his older brother, Maurice, 6. And Kimberly's jacket and pants once were Michael's.
For her, standing in line to receive cheap clothing or free butter and cheese is a way of life, Morgan said.
"It's hard on me to shop at retail stores," said Morgan, who lives with her children and their father in a low-rent apartment complex and has been unemployed since 1977. "I don't have enough money to get what I need sometimes. Used clothes are okay. You wash them, iron them and fix them up and they're just as good as new."
SCCDS director Johnson said the group sponsored the event "to provide clothing to families who have suffered from unemployment and RIFs and whose incomes are too low to buy all that they need. With rising utility costs and increased rental costs, senior citizens especially have it hard these days."
Clothing was donated from "as far away as Alexandria," she said. "These clothes represent the interdependence of the community and the unity among the people who live in the Washington Metropolitan area."