- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Five vacant spaces at Cortana Mall have been temporarily transformed into the Red Stick Retail Shop, which is offering free new clothing to thousands in the Baton Rouge area whose wardrobes were depleted by the August flood.

The store opened Thursday and will continue operating until Sunday at 5 p.m.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/2eXWh2X) it may reopen once more, depending on how much of the $4 million in donated clothing is still in stock and if any more donations come in.

Red Stick Retail Shop is like a traditional retailer. About 4,000 flooded households registered in advance online and are shopping by appointment. They have to show a letter from FEMA acknowledging they’ve suffered flood damage and produce a photo ID.

Pat Stewart, whose home flooded, was one of the first to set up an appointment. She quickly filled a big bag with socks, sweaters and undergarments.

“I love the one-on-one shopping,” Stewart said.

The Urban League of Louisiana teamed with state Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, as well as the Louisiana Workforce Commission to get the store up and running. Two national clothing charities, K.I.D.S and Fashion Delivers, spent the past two months amassing merchandise donated by 26 retailers and clothing companies nationwide.

One big donor is the footwear company Skechers. Jennifer Clay, vice president of corporate communications, noted the support for helping Baton Rouge recover is widespread

“People from all over the country are with you and trying to help you,” Clay said.

Post-disaster pop-up clothing stories are not new.

James said he learned soon after the flooding that Baton Rouge was likely to get this kind of help from a friend, Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin. Columbia set up its free clothing store after severe flooding there in October 2015 with the help of the same national charities, James said.

Erika McConduit, president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Louisiana, said finding customers for the free clothing store has been easy.

“As soon as we put this on social media, it went like wildfire,” McConduit said. “It shows you what the need is out there.”


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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