Help the homeless community by providing clothing and other essential items.
Closet of Caring literally chose me.
Stick with me here.
I’m not a biblical person, but I very much believe that I was called to this act of service. On October 31, 2020, My husband & I volunteered to help serve a brown bag dinner to the homeless community with my friend and The Love Truck founder, Nathan Walden. While I love Nathan dearly, punctuality is not his strongest trait. As such, we arrived earlier than he did and while we waited, I decided to get out of the car and converse with the folks waiting for their meal.
It started out with “How’s your day? How about that Ohio State game later? Cold out today, huh?”
Then the wheels just started spinning and I moved beyond the trivial to “How else can I serve you? What do you need beyond basic sustenance? If I could gather a few donations, what would be the most beneficial to you?”
Their answers astounded me.
A hoodie. Soap. Blankets. Jeans. All very basic things we all take for granted.
I went home that night and I didn’t sleep. The next day, November 1, 2020, I launched the Closet of Caring Facebook page and started posting on every social media free/community board I could. I asked folks if instead of bringing their donations to random drop boxes, they’d bring them to me.
And bring them they did.
I converted half of my garage into a clothing closet. It started out as stacks of 25 gallon totes, then through donations and fundraising we were able to buy some shelving. There was a learning curve, for sure. At the beginning I took everything. I quickly learned that the need in the homeless community is approximately 97/3 men to women, and as a result, I stopped taking women’s clothing due to the shear lack of storage. Today, I regularly take men’s clothing (in season) and a list of Blessing Bag items. I accept women’s attire once a month and funnel that directly to Domestic Violence Project, Inc., which is near to my heart as I lost my best friend to a domestic violence murder suicide in 2005.
I have large dreams for Closet of Caring. On Halloween, I hadn’t even dreamed this would exist at all. Today we’re incorporated with the State of Ohio as a charitable organization, registered with the Secretary of State, and as of 2/17/21 an official 501c3 charity.
The question I get asked most often is why I do this. My answer is simple. Everyone deserves to be loved, regardless of circumstance or situation. If the folks I serve want to tell me their story, I will always gladly listen, as will my husband. But I don’t care. I don’t care if they made a mistake, took a wrong turn, served time. We all do things in life that we aren’t proud of; that doesn’t mean that we should suffer indefinitely for them.
At any given moment, we’re all one step away from homelessness. In 2012 I was there myself. One day I was running the family business alongside my father, the next I was diagnosed with an illness I didn’t even know existed and living in a travel trailer because I had lost everything. You wouldn’t know it today, but 9 years ago my life wasn’t so pretty.
So today I build my table long. As long as I can. And I will spend every day of my life, until there are no more, extending it.
Because when you have more than you need, you build a longer table. Not a higher fence.