SHS student stocks clothes closetA small room filled with children’s clothes is easing the burden of parents in need. Tucked into the upper floor of North Bay Community Church, the ReStore Free Closet is available to anyone in the community.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A small room filled with children’s clothes is easing the burden of parents in need. Tucked into the upper floor of North Bay Community Church, the ReStore Free Closet is available to anyone in the community. It offers a private, confidential shopping experience for parents. The program, said volunteers, has been a blessing for all involved.
The Rev. Curt Vanderstelt, pastor of North Bay, remembers helping a father pick out clothing for his three children. He found outfits for each of the boys and was looking through clothes for his daughter.
“He opened the bin for girls and he started to cry,” Vanderstelt said. “Right on top was a little dancing outfit. It was exactly what he was hoping to find for his daughter.
“There it was, right on top of the pile. It was a really neat experience.”
Colleen Delich volunteers at the ReStore closet. One day she helped a mother with four children who had just left an abusive relationship.
“They had absolutely nothing,” Delich said. “We had everything for her.” From winter jackets and boots to shirts, pants, pajamas and underwear, the closet had it all.
“She cried,” Delich said. “When she broke down it touched my heart so much. They’re so thankful.”
Knowing how much the ReStore closet means to parents who use it and to his mother, Superior High School senior Steven Delich chose to base his senior project on it.
“Why not just help out,” he said. “Help my community.”
Hoping to collect clothes for the site, the senior sent out an e-mail to SHS teachers asking for donations. While he received nearly 30 garbage bags full of clothing, they were all adult size. The ReStore closet caters to youth, providing new and gently-used clothing from size 0 to 16.
The Delich family dropped the adult clothing off at the Northwest Community Services Agency’s free store and the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse. Now, they’re asking the community for help in stocking the ReStore shelves. In particular, the clothing closet needs boys apparel, new underwear of all sizes and disposable diapers.
“No gently used diapers, please,” Vanderstelt said.
He stressed that the clothes need to be in new or nearly new condition.
“We’re not looking for Calvin Klein,” Vanderstelt said. “Just quality clothes that are going to wear well and last.” The kind of clothes, he said, anyone would be proud to see their children in.
A church parishioner got the idea for the clothes closet during the annual East End Days rummage sale. She saw piles of children’s clothing left over after the sales and started thinking about all the mothers she knew who could use them. In 2008, the clothes closet was established at North Bay Community Church.
“What I’d love the community to know is it’s here; use it,” Vanderstelt said. “It’s not based on income, family size, race, creed, religion … it’s based on you need it; it’s here. Come take it.”
People who utilize the ReStore closet come from all walks of life – single moms and dads, couples, grandparents and foster parents. Some have lost jobs, others just can’t make their paycheck stretch to cover everything. The children’s clothes closet is there for anyone.
“It’s kind of been our way of serving the community,” Vanderstelt said.
It has also led to some fun requests from the pulpit. Vanderstelt has held underwear offerings and encouraged his parishioners to drop their socks at the altar.
Some of the people who have received help have returned to donate clothing back to the closet, creating a cycle of giving.
Volunteers are being sought to help take parents through the free, confidential shopping experience and to sort and clean donated clothes. They do not need to be a member of the church to lend a hand. Colleen Delich became a volunteer after she visited the closet with a relative.
“I fell in love with it,” she said. “I just loved helping people.”
That’s the same reason her son is focused on collecting items for ReStore as part of his senior project.
“I like helping,” he said.
To donate items, contact Delich at (715) 403-1079 or the church at (715) 398-6308. Clothing can be dropped off at the church, 1316 E. Fifth St., or at the Delich family’s home, 1024 Oakes Ave. The family is also willing to pick up donations from community members.
To sign up for clothing from the ReStore Closet, call the church or send an online request for an appointment through the church website, www.northbaychurch.org/. Those interested in volunteering can call the church.