HOLYOKE — It was Black Friday, and Esperanza Quinones was out picking out a few things.
In her bag were some essentials. A couple of blouses. A comforter. A pair of boots.
“I only take what I need. I don’t take what I don’t need,” she said.
Quinones’ Black Friday experience was not spent going shoulder to shoulder with shoppers at the mall, but in the parking lot of Kate’s Kitchen at Providence Ministries for the Needy on Hamilton Street. There, she and several others looked through stacks of donated, second-hand clothing arranged on a tarp in the middle of the lot.
The clothing — shirts, pants, shoes, sweaters and even some jackets — were there for anyone in need, at no cost, and without question or judgment, said Kevin Joslyn, president of the For the Love of Good Foundation.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” he said. “We don’t care who you worship or who you love. If you’re cold and hungry we want to help you. Simple as that.”
Joslyn, a retired correctional officer with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, founded the organization two years ago to help the homeless, and people he calls “struggling neighbors” — those on the margins who have a place to stay but not much else.
In the two years since the Foundation has been conducting the clothing giveaways, it has helped an estimated 3,700 people.
For the Love of Good partners with Kate’s Kitchen once a month.
Kate’s Kitchen provides food to people who need it. For the Love of Good spreads out its tarp in the parking lot to provide clothing to those who need that.
Often, there’s an overlap.
“They average 100 to 150 people a day, so that means we can potentially get 150 people coming over here,” he said Friday.
It’s common to see people go to the kitchen for food and then cross the parking lot to look through the clothing. Or vice versa.
The wiser members of the clientele check through the clothing first and then get food, he said, “Because if you wait until after the food, all the good stuff (in the foundation’s pile) may be gone.”
While talking with a reporter, a young man comes up to say he heard they have a pair of overalls. He says he needs a pair for his job but can’t afford them. Josyln leads him over to his trailer to show him the overalls, a brand-new donated pair.
But they are the wrong size. Joslyn shows him some work pants — but they do not fit either, and the man leaves empty handed.
Asked how he thinks the man heard about the overalls, Joslyn said word tends to spread through the neighborhood pretty quickly that the foundation is there and what sort of things are available.
By the trailer are a handful of brand-new sleeping bags, boxes of gloves and hats. ”If we see someone who says