A clothing center that caters to the needy has found a new home in Forest Hill after being evicted from a county-owned office building about to undergo renovation.
The Community Churches' Clothing Centerat 18 Office St. had to be out by Nov. 29. Volunteers there have feared the organization would be homeless for an indefinite period.
A joyful Mary Beth Baisdon, who serves as co-chair of the clothing center with Nancy Dove, said Old Line Plastics offered a rent-free arrangement at their headquarters in an industrial park in Forest Hill.
"It's wonderful. We'll have ample space for all our clothes now," said Baisdon.
Old Line Plastics, which manufactures plastic parts for cars, such as ash trays and seat belt guides, is at 1515 Melrose Lane in Forest Hill.
Linda Amrein, controller and treasurer forOld Line Plastics, said she learned of the center's problem at her church, St. Margaret's, one of the five churches that jointly operate the center.
"As soon as I saw the bulletin, I said to myself 'We have that office space we're not using,' " said Amrein. "We occupy allor part of five buildings. It's a situation where we took the space because we knew we'd need it someday, but we're not using it now. It seemed like the ideal situation for both parties."
Baisdon said the center gave away free bags of clothing in anticipation of the move because the volunteer group had no place to store the items in the interim between eviction and relocating.
"Now we have to have a clothing drive, I guess," said Baisdon.
The county Board of Elections also is being forced to move out of the county building by Dec. 16, but has a new home waiting at the old Post Office on 145 N. Main St. in Bel Air.
Rita Dather, administrator for the county's Board of Elections, is worried about moving the records and office equipment by Dec. 16. Among the papers the Board of Elections has on file and mustmove are voting records and campaign spending reports.
With a primary election that's less than three months away, Dather said she fears moving the Board of Election offices from 18 Office St. may disrupt election planning. The election board will relocate to the old PostOffice building until the renovations are complete, and then will move back to Office Street, she said.
"An election starts snowballing about six to eight months before Election Day," said Dather. "We can't afford to lose a couple of days packing and unpacking, waiting for the electricity or the phone man."
Dather said she fears the move, though necessary, could affect voter registration, which increasessteadily as an election approaches, and training sessions for precinct voting judges.
Baisdon said the clothing center will have an easier time moving; clothing that was not sold has been sent overseas to help families who need clothes.
It's at least the third time thecenter, founded by a consortium of churches, has moved, she said.
"We started in 1962 in the basement of First Presbyterian Church andwe've moved several times," she said. "But from 1984, well, until this week, we've been at 18 Office St."
She said the clothing centerwill keep its same shopping hours -- 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays, the only day it is open -- and should re-open Jan. 9. Between 30 to 45 families shop at the center on average each Thursday.
The center, which collects clothing donations from parishioners at the five participating churches -- First Presbyterian, Christ Our King Presbyterian, St. Margaret's, Bel Air Methodist and Calvary Baptist -- and from individual donors, sells each piece of clothing for 10 cents, Baisdon said.
"We thought it helped the customers to keep their dignity -- this way they can look at it as shopping," said Baisdon. "The money wecollect goes right back to help those people."
Traditionally, money earned from the sale of clothing has been used to give a Christmasparty and presents to the center's customers, who must show proof they are receiving public assistance, said Baisdon. This year, customers received grocery store shopping certificates, a personal Christmas gift and toys for children, she said.