Clear input, but

I have situation where I need to clear an input box, but not before the info inside is used by the rest of my script. The file is a simulated AIM chat window that works with an XML file. The user inputs a zip code into the AIM chat window, clicks the enter key or search button, then in the AIM response window is the users input with a response that uses variables in the XML file showing the user participating restaurants in their area. The whole thing is supposed to function exactly like AIM. The problem is that if I clear the input box after the enter key, or search button is pressed, I lose the users input which is necessary for the rest of the script to operate. I’ve been trying to work with multiple variables to save the input, but with no success. Please take a look at link below, it’s only 572kb so I couldn’t attach it this post. My understanding of actionscript is kinda low, but this can’t be as difficult I’m finding it to be.