The Community Outreach Clothing Pantry is dedicated to helping local people meet their clothing needs in these trying times.
Started a few years ago as a program in Illinois, it came to Gays Mills a year ago. Open four times per month in conjunction with the Gays Mills Food Pantry, the volunteers who manage and staff the Community Outreach Clothing Pantry seek to help people find the items they need.
“We let the nursing homes know we can help,” Florence Clark, the coordinator of the program said. “Sometimes they have residents arrive who don’t really have enough clothing. They can let us know what they need and we help find it. We have had volunteers do this for some of the children in the area too.”
“Come July and August, some of our volunteers will be heading up to work at the orchards,” Clarks explained. “Having folks who are already trained would be nice. It would give me a chance to work on a few other thing.”
Originally taken on by the United Methodist Church, the pantry soon became a project of the Ridge and Valley Charge, comprised of Gays Mills, Soldiers Grove, and North Clayton’s Methodist Churches.
With seven volunteers on hand besides Clark, the clothing pantry could still use more help and money for supplies.
Betty Bell recently donated clothing racks, but according to Clark, they need more. Some clothing still has to be kept folded on tables, where it’s difficult to see and more time consuming to keep sorted and organized.
“Some volunteers, like Jeanne Spencer, can just walk in and lay their hands on whatever they need. Jeanne can remember where everything is at,” Clark said. “I have to look around quite a bit.”
The program has had a few bumps along the way. Some clothing has been taken, only to be returned later with price tags on it. The result was a rule stating that anyone caught taking the clothing for resale would be banned from using the clothing pantry ever again.
“But you help so many people, that the one or two percent that are problems are worth dealing with,” Clark added. “We are changing the rules a bit here and there, while we figure out what works.”
Community Outreach Clothing Pantry is there to help and they are happy to be doing so.
The doors to the clothing and food pantries open the first, second and third Wednesdays of each month from 2-4 p.m. and the first Saturday of the month from 9-11 a.m.
To arrange times to make donations or for questions about Community Outreach, please call Florence Clark at 735-4652, Elsie Clark at 735-4498, Karen Smith at 735-43500 or Pastor Lorie Betz at 624-5828.