Food, shelter and style 

One September morning, Laurie Gries, writing professor at the University of Montana, woke up and decided to put her old clothes to work. She wanted to send things she’d barely worn to Indonesian tsunami victims, but charities didn’t want her clothes; they wanted her money. That seemed reasonable, but Laurie didn’t have as much money as she had clothes, and writing a check wasn’t quite the humanitarian effort she’d had in mind. The result of Gries’ dissatisfaction is a fledgling nonprofit, Threads for Humanity, a Missoula-based organization of women committed to helping other women in need.

Founder and Director Gries and co-director Jennifer Marrow are committed to throwing an annual fundraising event to benefit local and national charities. This year’s benefit, to be held Saturday, Feb. 25, at Parkside at the Wilma (formerly Marianne’s) is styled as a Gala Benefit for Katrina Women Relief. The benefit will display new and gently-used clothing for sale as well as silent auction items like certificates from local spas and donations from local artists. All donations have been gifted from local artisans and downtown stores like Betty’s Divine and Ellie Blue. This year, Threads for Humanity will donate 100 percent of any profits to the Ms. Foundation for Women, the leading national women’s philanthropic organization, which will designate funds for the Katrina Women’s Response Fund.

Though Gries’s barely-worn duds still take up closet space, her brainchild, Threads for Humanity, is quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing Missoula-based charities. With local businesses donating everything from facials to liquor to chocolate to A-line skirts, the event promises to be, in Gries’ words, “the female event of the season.”

And if Threads for Humanity reaches its goal of $10,000, it may also be the charity event of the season.

Tickets for the benefit are on sale for $25 at Betty’s Divine, Laurel Creek, Ellie Blue and Rockin Rudy’s. Included in the price is dessert, wine and a $10 voucher toward any purchase.

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