It has been a big year for the First Teen Clothes Closet! We have been in our new location at Trinity Lutheran Church for just over a year, and in that year we have served more than 275 individual teens from at least 24 area middle schools and high schools through our Monday night shopping hours, private appointments and the annual Trinity Lutheran Church block party and shoe distribution. (The shoe distribution alone set more than 170 teens up for the school year with a pair of new shoes).
By Sept. 1, 2019, our year-to-date numbers include having provided teens from La Crosse, Onalaska, Holmen, West Salem, La Crescent and surrounding communities with:
• 300+ pairs of pants, shorts, capris and skirts
• 400 casual and dress shirts and sweaters
• 100 hoodies and jackets
• 200+ pairs of underwear (purchased new)
• 275+ pairs of socks (purchased new)
• 150+ bras (purchased new)
• 150 sticks of deodorant
• 75 toothbrushes
This compares to 250 pairs of pants, shorts & capris; 300 shirts, sweaters and hoodies; 150 pairs of socks; and 50 toothbrushes during the same time period in 2017.
This outreach is funded through a combination of congregational support, grants from community organizations, individual and business donors (who donate money, clothing and/or toiletries) and volunteers.
Among the biggest changes in the last two months have been the installation of air conditioning units in four of the five main rooms occupied by the First Teen Clothes Closet and construction of new dressing room dividers so teens can try on their new clothes. Huge thanks go to volunteers Don and Darcy Skibba, who acquired a grant to help fund the AC, then researched options and worked with the Trinity Lutheran Church council, and also to Mike Peper and his volunteer crew who installed the AC units. We also appreciate the generosity of the Berg family, who donated room dividers for the dressing rooms and the efforts of David Lee to build supports and get it all set up.
Volunteers sort donations, shop for necessities, host Monday night shopping and special appointments and organize the closet each week, collectively contributing at least 60 hours a month to this effort. If you are interested in assisting us in any of these areas, please talk to a committee member or contact the church office.
All the hard work is paying off as more community members are becoming aware of the resource all the time. The First Teen Clothes Closet has been chosen as the La Crosse Public Library’s “Non-Profit of the Month” for October, providing additional opportunities for us to share information about the Closet with patrons of all three branches of the library. We have also had the opportunity to present information to area service organizations and continue to partner with schools, social workers, youth organizations and others in our community.
What we need now: winter coats and hoodies! Hoodies are a year-round favorite, and we will set out coats in the next few weeks, so gently-used, clean donations are needed.
We are excited about what the future holds as this ministry enters its eighth year and continues to provide teens with clothes, shoes, dignity, confidence and a feeling of God’s love in their lives.
First Teen Clothes Closet team,
Lori Lunney, Shari Hegland, Bridget Crave, Patty Shepard