Spring and summer clothing needed
With Spring appearing to finally be on its way, Mary Jo Johnson and her staff of 11 volunteers at the Five Loaves Clothing Center are looking for donations of spring and summer wear items, such as Tshirts, shorts and shoes.
“One of the reasons this year has been really slow so far this year for donations, I think, is that everybody is really depressed this year with all the snow and the long winter,” said Johnson, who manages the day-to-day operations at the Five Loaves Clothing Center. “But now that things are getting a little warmer and spring is coming up, people are thinking about getting into their closets and cleaning them out.”
Since the holiday giving season passed with the start of the New Year, donations to the Clothing Center have been very slow to the point where Johnson didn’t see many people donating clothing or other items for weeks on end.
“I think we ran like two weeks without hardly anything and then all of a sudden Tia went out there and people started bringing stuff in,” Johnson said. “Once the word gets out there people start to bring stuff in. People tend to forget about us and there are a lot of people who don’t even know we exist.”
Even though the Clothing Center sees a sharp decrease in donations around this time every year, some donations still come in from local groups and schools such as Hillside Elementary, area churches and food drives held throughout the community.
“Every year, Hillside helps us out with a clothing drive while all the churches are also involved in helping us out,” Johnson said. “Mostly, it is word of mouth that helps us bring in more items. Especially with our customers who come in to shop. We tell them to get the word out there that we need spring clothes and they help us as well.”
Hillside Elementary’s clothing drive is one of the bigger drives that the clothing center sees when it comes to children’s clothing. And not only do the students collect the clothes at the school, but they also bring the items down to the center and help put them on the racks and shelves.
“They bring a lot of clothes. A lot of clothes,” Johnson said. “Hillside has been doing that for many years. The kids will come down with them and unload the clothes and put them away for us. They really enjoy getting to help. They also then get to see what we have got here.”
One of the little-known facts about the Clothing Center that Johnson wants to make sure everyone knows, is that it does not just cater to people who do not have the means to buy clothes from major retailers.
“Anybody can shop here; it has nothing to do with your income,” Johnson said. “We have a couple who come in from Menomonie every weekend, and some people from Connorsville and Amery. You do not have to be in the New Richmond area or low income to shop here.”
Along with being open to anyone no matter their income level, the Clothing Center is also open to people from anywhere, not just within the New Richmond School District like the food shelf next door.
“A lot of people figure that since the food shelf requires you to live in the New Richmond School District, that the clothing center worked the same way,” Johnson said. “That is not true at all and we have to make it very clear that anyone is welcome.”
The Clothing Center sees people of all ages come in to shop, but it is most popular among younger couples with school-age children.
“For the most part, we see a lot of younger parents with school-age kids,” Johnson said. “They buy a lot for their children. The children’s clothing is one of our hotter items.”Johnson is quick to point out the Clothing Center takes more than just clothes. There are a lot of people who come in every Saturday to try out a new puzzle.
“A lot of older people come in for puzzles and they will put them together then bring them back the next week,” Johnson said. “We also have linens, shoes and dishes. When Lakeside gears up in the spring, they come and get a lot of those items as well as silverware and pots and pans.”
Five Loaves Clothing Center
Location: Community Commons, 421 South Green Ave. #8
Hours: Mon. 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Wed, Sat. 9 a.m.-noon; Closed on all major holidays.
Cost: Items are 25 cents unless marked otherwise.
Not accepted: The Clothing Center can’t accept dirty, stained or torn clothes, broken toys, games or puzzles with missing pieces, car seats, outdated electronics, mattresses or large household items.
Mission: The center is open to everyone, without restrictions. It’s mission is to offer donated, clean and gently used clothing and household items to the public at a very modest price with all proceeds supporting Five Loaves programs.