The First Christian Church Clothes Closet has continued to meet the needs of the community over the years.
“It’s been going close to 20 years and it’s continued to grow,” Rev. Andrea Brownlee said.
The Clothes Closet is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday (weather and funerals permitting) at 1224 Lucinda St., Perry. Everything is free, including men’s, women’s, children’s and baby clothing, accessories, toys and more.
Volunteer Betty Thomas said the Clothes Closet was initially limited to a small corner of the fellowship hall. It’s since expanded to fill the entire downstairs fellowship hall.
“It’s definitely a need in the community and I’m glad as the pastor that it’s a need we can fill,” Brownlee said. “We can visibly see the need being met in real time. We probably helped at least 200 people last month. That doesn’t even include how many people brought donations in.”
Donations can be dropped off when the Clothes Closet is open on Saturdays. Those looking to donate items can also bring them by the church on weekday afternoons, though Brownlee encourages them to call the church first.
“If you need something, it’s here and if you have something to give, drop it off. That’s our hope, whatever side of the ministry is helpful to you is what we want you to participate in,” she said of the Clothes Closet.
That could be coming to volunteer on Saturdays to keep the racks organized, put new items out, collect donated items or just chat with shoppers.
Thomas said they have a core group of regular volunteers, though they recently lost one of the longtime volunteers as Dave McDowell died in December.
“I think there were maybe a few volunteers who were like will we keep doing this because Dave passed away. We’re like absolutely, that would be what he would want us to do,” Brownlee said. You don’t stop a ministry because one person isn’t able to be part of it anymore, you find new people to step up and step into those roles and keep it going.”
That’s what happened when Ernie and Darrell Bever, who helped start the Clothes Closet, stepped back and Dave and Phyllis McDowell stepped up.
“That’s how this ministry has continued to grow, by people saying I need to step back but these people will step in,” Brownlee added.
The ministry has also continued to grow by offering free clothes and other items to those in the Perry community and beyond. Thomas said they have shoppers from Woodward, Minburn and Dawson and donations from Waukee, Adel and more.
“It’s a great ministry to the community because it offers people the opportunity to come in and just browse around for themselves and pick what they need or what they want,” Brownlee said.
Others will call the church and say they need a certain size or a particular item. Thomas and Brownlee said volunteers will then hunt for those items and keep them back.
“The official time is Saturday, but we’re open for appointments and we’re flexible because it doesn’t do us any good for the clothes to sit downstairs. People donated them to be worn and used so we want people to have access,” Brownlee said.
She added that the Clothes Closet is free to the public for anyone who wants to come or anyone who wants to donate.
“It’s been a good outreach for the community,” Thomas said.
“I hope it continues to meet the needs of the community and we’ll keep having it open until nobody comes,” Brownlee said.
For more information about the Clothes Closet, call First Christian Church at 515-465-2215. Watch for updates on the First Christian Church Facebook page.