Free raffle for men’s clothing “Get in the mood for the holiday”. | Popgen Tech
As the holiday season approaches, David Lee, founder of St. Brian Clothiers, Michael Norwood of Buffalo Black Billion, Casimiro Rodriguez of the Latin American Heritage Council and Christopher Biloni of Colvin Cleaners joined forces to create the inaugural “A costume for the holidays» free distribution of men’s clothing. Men will be allowed to select one item on Sunday, December 19th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm and Monday, December 20th from noon to 6:00pm while supplies last at the Reverend Dr. Bennett W. Smith Sr. Family Life Center. , 833 Michigan Ave. in the Fruit Belt community of East Buffalo.
They also need extra shoes and are accepting donations of new and gently used shoes of all sizes at Back-to-Basics Ministries, 1370 Williams St., Suite 3, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and at Community Church, 62 Virginia St. . on Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Lee was the mastermind behind the distribution of men’s suits, blazers, shirts, ties and shoes from the large amount he collected in response to the tragic racist attack on the black community in Buffalo on May 14th. He asked for donations of men’s clothing, which were offered free of charge to those who would need them at future funerals and memorial services for slain neighbors.
The residents of the “City of Good Neighbors” got a big win when his small store at 11 East Utica Street was suddenly filled with men’s clothing, and men enjoyed the opportunity to purchase free items that they really needed. He named the store after his nephew Brian, a well-dressed young man with a strong faith in God. Unfortunately, Lee watched this young man die of cancer, and as they prepared for the funeral, Brian’s father needed a suit. Lee brought him a pair to try and one fit perfectly.
“He suddenly had a smile on his face that no one thought was possible,” Lee said. “At that moment, I saw the healing properties that clothes can have on a person, so I named my company St. Brian Clothiers in honor of my nephew.”
Lee through St. Brian Clothiers also began working with several East Buffalo ministries that brought men to their warehouse to be fitted for suits for a variety of reasons, such as job interviews, court appearances and family events. His goal of starting a small thrift store quickly became a reality, and he said the whole experience of fitting clothes for the people of East Buffalo was a personal spiritual experience. “We all know that food, shelter and clothing are essential to life in urban communities across America,” Lee explained. “Along with East Buffalo suffering from a food desert, we also have a clothing desert, and in a small way, through St. Brian Clothiers, we helped fill that void.
“We do more than put clothes on racks or clothes on people’s backs. We put respect and focus back into the spirit of each of our clients. Not only did these men have access to leading brands, but they also had a special experience as they were assisted by a stylist every step of the way, ensuring they left with a perfectly tailored outfit and a renewed sense of confidence,” added Lee.
After the tragic murder on 14.5. St. Brian Clothiers received over 1,200 suits, 500 pairs of shoes, many shirts and ties and successfully clothed over 700 men.
“Buffalo was said to be one of the poorest cities in America. Despite this stigma, Buffalo Black Billion strives to meet the growing need for affordable housing, employment opportunities, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship. The “Dress up for the holidays” initiative shows that Buffalo has strength in numbers, and we are honored to partner in this worthy endeavor,” said Norwood of Buffalo’s Black Billion, the first faith-based, God-led African-American economic development initiative in Buffalo’s history through St. John the Baptist Churches /Gethsemane of the Fruit Belt Baptist Mission–“Two churches, two campuses, one village.”
Rodriquez added, “In a season when we celebrate the spirit of giving, the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY, Inc. I am honored to join our friends and neighbors from across the city for this iconic event, which we are sure will attract many men in our city very excited for the holidays.”
“For more than 20 years, our family at Colvin Cleaners has cleaned and distributed hundreds of thousands of winter coats and accessories for free to families in need,” said Biloni, vice president of Colvin Cleaners. “We knew that when we were asked to clean many of these suits, they would be greatly appreciated by men who can now proudly show off their new suit, shirt, tie and shoes this holiday season.”
Lee, whose motivation to dress these men comes from Isaiah 61 in the Bible, added: “We’re just empowering the men in our community to become a new version of themselves by looking in the mirror and seeing themselves wearing a new suit, shirt, tie and shoes. We are on the front lines with men during some of the most difficult times in their lives and through God we can sow life, love and strength into their lives by providing them with new clothing.
Main image: DeWitt Lee, right, and Michael Norwood, left, spokesperson for Buffalo Black Billion. second from left with members of the Men’s Christian Fellowship of St. John the Baptist and Gethsemane Baptist Churches who are organizing and facilitating the free men’s clothing giveaway this weekend.