▶️ Bend colleges revive free campus clothing store with some unexpected help

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A joint project between Central Oregon Community College and OSU-Cascades offers students the chance to clothing shop for free.

From new shoes to gently used business attire, The Clothing Connection has everything to help local college students feel their best.

“Clothes shopping, especially if you’re interested in nicer, dressier clothes,” Dilynn Campbell, COCC student and shopper said. “It gets really expensive really quickly.”

The store helps some students prepare for future interviews, but the idea has a pretty interesting history.

89-year-old Harriet Langmas was one of the original founders of this COCC concept when it was called “Displaced Homemakers” in the 1960’s.

“I created a seminar about what color to wear for a job interview,” Langmas said. “Then I began doing a closet up at the gym at COCC.”

The Bend resident has been sewing her whole life, a passion that landed her a spot on the hit television show “What’s My Line” in 1962.

Nowadays, neighbors hand over their clothes to Langmas for her to re-purpose.

Throughout the pandemic, she received so many pieces, she hardly knew what to do with it all.

“One woman brought me 32 jackets that were all beautiful,” Langmas said.

Once Langmas found out The Clothing Connection was back up and running last fall, she began donating much of her own collection to the on-campus store.

The program is a partnership between COCC and OSU-Cascades, each of which has had smaller, similar resources in the past.

Students are welcome to visit once-a-term and take up to 10 items, all new or gently used, for free.

Little did Langmas know, the 1960’s clothing closet she was a part of would inspire the present-day Clothing Connection and local college students.

“It made me feel confident going into my interview,” Melissa Swearingen, OSU-Cascades student and Clothing Connection employee said. “I felt like I really looked the part.”

The Clothing Connection is located in Ochoco 225, COCC Bend Campus and is open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Donations are accepted in the COCC Coats Campus Center 208 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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