On any Thursday afternoon at our women’s campus, you can hear delighted squeals and laughter coming from the dining hall. If you close your eyes, you might think that you were at a local mall with a big sale going on! You hear things like “Look at this!, this is just what I needed,” and “this doesn’t fit me, but it will look great on you!” That is because volunteer Amanda Robinson is there to help sort through the weekly donations for the women’s clothes closet.
Amanda has been a part of The Extension family since 1993 when a friend took her to “Theatre on the Square” that The Extension was involved with and she’s been hooked ever since. At first, she helped at the Men’s campus and served on our Board of Directors. But, when the women’s campus opened in 2009, she volunteered to help with the clothes closet and she’s been there ever since. She recounted, “When we were opening the women’s center, one of my jobs was to get the room signs made. I asked Tyler what to call the clothes closet and he said that I should just call it “Amanda’s Closet” and so I did! I just love it and look forward to it every week because we always get such good stuff.”
What attracted you to the clothes closet?
“I like to shop and I like pretty things so I enjoy seeing the women get something really nice that they like and really want to wear. They set the tables up before I get here and then we go through the donations from that week. I love to watch them work because after they’ve been here awhile, they teach the new women the process. They go through the clothes and decide what they want and they help each other find things. If there’s something everyone likes but is not their size, we will put it in the closet. We also have a great “return policy.” They only have limited space in their room so if they need to change sizes or they get tired of something, they can just bring it back. The women also like to give back. They will bring clothes from home that don’t fit anymore to give to the other women.
How do you decide what stays and what goes?
“We are limited on space and so some items go to Goodwill, but with 21 women, we try and maintain a full range of sizes. We are seasonal, and right now we need summer stuff like women’s shorts and T-shirts. We always keep some coats so that we will have a backlog in the fall. When we ask the community for what we need, we always get a great response. We get some great stuff. Often, a lady will have a particular need and miraculously, that item will show up!”
Do you get special requests from the residents and how do you meet all the needs?
“Sometimes, I’ll have a special size request and just go shopping or, ask someone I know who wears that size. Gently worn or new bras are always needed as well as bra extenders. We always need new underwear in all sizes and socks that I usually just buy and donate. Gym shoes in good shape are always needed and sunglasses. Most of the ladies walk to work and need to protect their eyes. The new ladies in the program are not allowed to have a phone and so they always need a watch. We frequently get watches, but they often need a new battery. My sister, who helps me, buys the batteries. She has a jeweler that will replace the batteries and even donates some watches.
What do you like best about working in the clothes closet?
When someone finds something they really like and their face just lights up! Every week is special because there are always new ladies and we all have so much fun. It never gets old!!!”
Current Clothes Closet needs:
Gym Shoes (in good shape)
Underwear (new) all sizes
Socks (new) all sizes
Bras & bra extenders – gently used or new