What Happens to Discarded Marathon Clothes?

At the Philly Marathon, they go to help the homeless. A local nonprofit does the legwork.

Michael and Madeline Resnic at Philadelphia Runner for their sneaker drive.

The Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th is likely to be one of the best days of the year for Michael and Madeline Resnic. But not because they’re running it. Look for them behind the pack: They’ll be the ones picking up discarded clothes along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

In 2007, this father-daughter team created the nonprofit Clothes-Pin, which collects and donates discarded-race clothing to homeless shelters. That year, Resnic and his daughter followed behind the runners, stuffing a total of 50 articles of clothing in a trash bag. In 2008, it was 5,000, and they’ve continued to expand since. They collected over 12,000 articles at last year’s Philadelphia Marathon alone, and they’re anticipating an equally impressive haul this year.

Because of the typically cool temperatures at the start of the race, runners dress in layers to keep their muscles warm as long as possible. After the gun goes off and they get moving, they begin tossing clothes left and right—that’s where Clothes-Pin steps in.

Right now, it’s a side job for the Resnics: Madeline, 13, is in school, but helps out when she can. Michael is an architect, but he gets up early, stays up late and makes as much time in his schedule for Clothes-Pin as possible.

“There’s just this huge need out there,” he says, referring to poverty and homelessness in Philadelphia. “We keep finding new ways to help.”

Clothes-Pin is now a presence at races beyond Philly, covering events in Atlantic City and Washington D.C. With the expansion, Resnic has to figure out where to donate the clothing. “Our model is to keep the clothes in the city of the race,” he says. In each location, they team up with a local homeless shelter. Philly’s is Bethesda Project.

Clothes-Pin recently expanded beyond marathons to work with apparel companies on donating their quality-control discards. And they’ve extended their reach globally, too: Clothes-Pin shipped clothes to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.

But the organization’s primary interest remains where its roots are: right here in Philadelphia. “The city’s been great,” Michael says. “The support of the local running community is what’s gotten us this far.”

So it’s fitting that the Resnics have teamed up with Philadelphia Runner for a shoe drive. From now until the marathon, they’ll be collecting sneakers in the storefront at 16th and Sansom. They’re also looking for clothes-cleanup volunteers for the marathon on the 20th. Want to help? Sign up here.