60 tons of clothing collected from NYC Marathon runners

Goodwill worker Darnell Grudge, (left) joined Katy Gaul-Stigge, president and CEO of Goodwill NY/NJ hold up clothing rescued from the Verrazano Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon – more than 120,000 pounds this year. They were on display at the Livingston Street store in Downtown Brooklyn. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Sunday’s New York City Marathon was a runaway success for a charity seeking to assist New Yorkers in need.

Over 120,000 pounds of clothing were picked up near the starting line at the Verrazzano Bridge on Nov. 3 by more than 200 volunteers affiliated with Goodwill Industries of NY/NJ to help raise money for charities and job programs at the venerable, used clothing organization.

The New York City Sanitation Department and New York Road Runners Club helped collect the mounds of clothing for Goodwill. Since they began their partnership in 2012, more than a million pounds of clothing have been recovered and either sold or recycled by Goodwill.

The largest amounts of clothing come on cold NYC Marathon days, as it was this past Sunday, where temperatures at the base of the Verrazzano Bridge reached just 40 degrees for the start of the race. Runners typically discard clothing after they begin warming up for the big, 26.2 mile journey.

Clothing is also tossed off along the entire route, and Goodwill makes an effort to collect those articles of clothing rather than letting it be discarded in landfills.

Katy Gaul-Stigge, president and CEO of Goodwill NY/NJ, said their mission has been to create jobs with the collected clothing and also fund mental health programs, autism, and developmental disability programs.

“Our mission to make it so there are no barriers to employment and create jobs and fund programs that help people,” Gaul-Stigge said. “Those warm up clothes that were previously going into the trash are now collected to help support residents with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Repurposing and reusing clothing greatly impact the environment –it’s amazing to have collected 1 million pounds by this year– and helps us to fund our job training, job coaches and wellness centers.“

Among the most popular items already on display at the Livingston Street Goodwill were sportswear items including jackets, sweat pants, stretchies, gloves and hats.

Goodwill NYNJ provides coaching, placement, and retention services for 30,000 people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Last year, Goodwill NYNJ helped 2,351 people get jobs, including finding work for 843 individuals with disabilities, at hospitals, tech firms, and NYC agencies.