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Jaime Campbell, left, an Illinois State University junior from Wheaton, returns mended clothes to Julian Westerhout at Fit It Friday in uptown Normal last October.

DAVID PROEBER, PANTAGRAPH FILE PHOTO

NORMAL — The year-old Fix It Friday program, in which Illinois State University students offer free basic mending and sewing repairs, is still going strong and recently received a national sustainability award.

The program is a joint project of the student Fashion Design and Merchandising Association and ISU's Office of Sustainability. Once or twice a month, the students set up in a different location around the Twin Cities, fixing rips, replacing buttons and doing other repairs.

Times and locations are posted on the program's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/IllinoisStateFixItFriday.

Elisabeth Reed, the program's adviser, said the idea is to “extend that (clothing) life longer and get people thinking about that and not being so quick to discard something.”

They are targeting minor repairs that are completed during the three to four hours the stand is set up.

“We don't want to take things away from alterations businesses,” she said.

The program keeps discarded clothing out of landfills while giving fashion students an opportunity to practice their sewing skills.

But not all of the 15 to 20 students are fashion majors, said Reed.

“I've had a couple students from different majors who like to sew that volunteered to help,” she said.

And students in the Engineering Technology Club are building a storage cart for the Fix It equipment that will convert into a table.

She hopes the cart will be done in time for the next Fix It Friday, which will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Student Commons Building cafe at Heartland Community College.

Considering the timing of the next event, Reed said she wouldn't be surprised if some people bring old Halloween costumes that need a little touching up.

At a recent Fix It at the Gingerbread House, the students fixed a few dolls and stuffed animals for children, she said.

The Fix It crew will have a two-day event in December, just in time to fix torn tree skirts or Christmas table runners and other holiday decorations. They will be at the McLean County Museum of History from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 1 as part of the holiday First Friday celebration in downtown Bloomington and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2, after the Christmas parade.

The program was among three to receive a Campus Sustainability Achievement Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

“This is something we started at a local level and to have it recognized at a national level is exciting,” she said.

Reed made a presentation at the association's conference and said several people expressed interest in starting similar programs at their schools. She thinks the program also could work at high schools.

“I was happy to have the opportunity to get to spread the message,” she said.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota

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