Clothes Closet open to all St. Elmo people

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Fayette Faces

By Panzi Blackwell

The First United Methodist Church’s stately parsonage on Walnut Street in St. Elmo is no longer used as a parsonage, but it continues to fill a need for the community.

The church family has allowed that building to be the home of the Community Clothes Closet, a community project staffed by community volunteers.
Marilyn Sproat shared the story of how the Closet was started and how the it grew through donations of clothing, and especially through the willing hands and hearts of volunteers, which now number more than 30.
The Community Closet is well-stocked and organized with clothes for all the family.
The children’s section (for newborns on up) is especially bright and cheerful, not only with the children’s clothing, but also with the added décor of toys, stuffed animals, etc.
There are rooms with clothes for teens, men and women, and clothes may be tried on in the parsonage bathroom.
The many rooms, both upstairs and down, are clean and well-illuminated by the windows. The out-of-season clothing is stored upstairs, waiting to be sorted for the transition, which will take place very soon.
All clothes are priced very reasonably, and everyone is welcome to shop there.
How It All Began
“Some years back, Rene Edwards and myself were among the first volunteers to start a clothes closet,” Sproat said. “We were in the old Austin Parts building for a number of years, then we moved over to the old Buick garage. Tim Carraway was gracious enough to let us use that.
“Than that was sold and we didn’t have anything for a number of years.”
“Then some of the girls had some really nice things left over from good yard sales, and the talk began, ‘We need another clothes closet.’
“This (old parsonage) was empty, the church said we could have it here. It is a community thing and it is all volunteer.” Sproat said.
“We have a board of six people  (Edwards, Sproat, Betty Lowe, LaQuita Booher, Sherri Einhorn and Helen Denton)  Since it is all volunteer, any profit goes back into the community. The board makes the decision who the money goes to.”
The first six months, they were able to give $700 to four different organizations in St. Elmo.
Sproat emphasized, “This (Closet) is open to everyone, not according to income. The donations have been so generous.”
Clothing only is accepted (no shoes), and Sproat said that nothing is wasted.
“What we can’t use goes the Harden County, down in Southern Illinois and to the Elizabethtown Baptist Church, which disperses it. When we have an excess of baby items, we donate them to the Lighthouse Pregnancy Center in Vandalia,” Sproat said.
“We think we have done well (to raise that) $700, because we are only open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Through the summer, we have been open from 5 to 7 p.m. on Mondays.
“I can’t tell you how many volunteers we have had. The churches have been real good,” Sproat said.
“We just call people and ask them if they would want to volunteer and they say, ‘Sure.’ Then we get more volunteers when we make the (seasonal) transition.”
“But when we first started this one, Rene and I were overwhelmed,” she said.
“There were some people helping us, and I called Betty Lowe. When she got on board and started helping us, organizing, she was able to get on Internet and help us get the racks.
“She also started the scheduling process. We schedule three months at a time and if you can’t work that day, you change with someone else, and we have a number to call if you can’t find someone. We now have more than 30 volunteers,” Sproat said.
The youth of the 1st United Methodist Church started a backpack project.
They gave filled backpacks away last Saturday at the Clothes Closet.
They had prepared 24 to give away. “Then a person read about it in a local paper and got the St. Elmo businesses to donate toward the project, and they filled 26 more back packs,” Sproat said.
“They gave a total of 37 backpacks and the remaining ones will also be given away,” Sproat said.
The Community Clothes Closet also held a sale on children’s clothes Saturday morning.
Ready to Take Donations of Fall Clothes
The Closet will be making the transition to fall and winter clothes soon, and will appreciate donations of clothing.
They will be holding a couple of sales of the summer clothing, so Sproat said to “watch for notices of the sales.”
The Community Clothes Closet is located on Walnut Street, next door to the church.
Look for the big sign and drop by with a donation of clothing, to browse and shop, to volunteer or just to tell the volunteers, “Good job – well done.”