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Free clothes closet pushes on despite COVID-19 challenges

Tina Bridenstine
The Shawnee News-Star
For those in need of a little help, Wesley United Methodist Church has been providing a free clothes closet for almost a decade now.

For those in need of a little help, Wesley United Methodist Church has been providing a free clothes closet for almost a decade now.

According to Shirley Adams, who has been director of the closet since it was started, it all began in July of 2011.

“Our United Methodist Women’s group did a rummage sale once a year,” Adams said. “It was quite popular with the community.”

However, she said setting up and then getting rid of items after the sale became overwhelming for aging volunteers.

“People were so generous with us that a few of the ladies decided that we would try to do a free give away,” she said, and that was when the Free Clothes Closet was born.

She said the group especially wanted to help people returning to the workforce who might need clothes. None of the clothes are sold, and they only ask for names to be provided in order to keep track of how many people have been helped.

Donations are accepted from the church congregation or other local residents, and Adams said the community has been very generous with donations.

“We accept anything that anyone brings and try to give it away to someone who needs it,” she said, adding that there is always a need for children’s clothes, men’s clothes, and plus-size women’s clothing.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has offered some challenges, but the group has found ways to adjust.

The closet, which had been open the second Friday and fourth Saturday of every month, closed from April until the last week of July.

Wanting to help with school clothes, the group was able to open it once more, but now it is located outside on the patio behind the church. For now, there is no set schedule, but dates for the closet are announced on the Wesley UMC Facebook page, on the church’s electronic sign, and in The Shawnee News-Star’s calendar.

“I tell our congregation from time to time that we are just a bunch of old ladies trying to do God’s work in the world,” Adams said.

Anyone interested in making a donation can go to the church office entrance on the east side of Wesley UMC between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or donations can be brought to the Free Clothes Closet when it is open.

Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 302 E. Independence in Shawnee.

Volunteers help at Wesley UMC's free clothes closet.

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