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The Giving Closet has a new location and a new look | New

In the fall of 2019, Erika Richards saw a Facebook post that touched her heart and prompted her to take action. This was a project carried out at the Cozad School to help provide clothing to children in need. After confirming with school counselors in Gothenburg that there was also a need among children for clothing and personal hygiene items, Richards set to work organizing what would become The Giving Closet.

Within weeks, Richards was offered space at Cornerstone Bible Church to open a boutique, and she began receiving donations of new and lightly used clothing. Her primary focus was on clothing and essentials for children from Kindergarten to Grade 12. This week, Richards was delighted to open The Giving Closet in a new downtown location, offering a larger, more accessible, user-friendly space to the public.

“We grew up quickly and got space at the Methodist Church. We also found that there was a need for much more – right down to adults. Some of the items were therefore moved to a space in the Methodist Church and some remained in Cornerstone, ”Richards explained. “He just kept growing and growing. I work with several different agencies that sent referrals, and word of mouth has just taken off. We needed more space and the place we were in was not as accessible as we wanted. Seeing the need, the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition (GECLC) and Dawson County Family Partners joined forces in partnership with what Richards was doing. “When Erika learned that GECLC was working with young children in town, as well as their families, we started visiting each other and quickly realized that our goal of addressing the community-wide challenges affecting children and their families was very closely linked to hers, ”said Nichole Hetz, GECLC Community Coordinator. “Once Dawson County Family Partners was launched, we had an even stronger connection with this work. We couldn’t be happier to partner with this wonderful addition to Gothenburg. “

With the support of these organizations, Richards was able to secure his much-needed largest location at 827 Lake Avenue. This location met all the requirements she needed – the right amount of space, laundry hookups, and aisle access.

“Door after door kept opening, so I kept going out. It all started in early April, ”said Richards.

She is thrilled with what she will now be able to offer people in the new store. “We now have a shoe rack! Families will be able to come in and find shoes without rummaging through boxes, ”Richards said, biting back tears. “This is a big deal. The families couldn’t use it as planned, so the fact that we’re here is so huge. I can’t wait to see their faces.

Richards and his friends who volunteered their time to help worked diligently to sort and organize the items and label displays. The Giving Closet is a community clothing exchange that provides all families in town with access to clothing. As a non-profit organization, the store is run entirely by volunteers. All articles are free for recipients; however, if buyers wish to donate voluntarily, they have the option of doing so.

Donations of items are accepted during business hours only on the day (s) specified on their Facebook page and at the store door. Clothing that is stained or torn will not be accepted, nor clothing with missing buttons or broken zippers. Due to space limitations, only clothing from the current donation season will be accepted. The only items other than clothing that The Giving Closet will accept are full size toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.

One of the needs Richards sees in the community is for foster children who come into the homes with very little, if any, items of clothing. The Giving Closet provides a resource for these families and any family that is in the process of rebuilding. Information on the resources available for families in crisis or difficulty is also available in the closet.

“It’s more than just clothes – it’s their heart. Now we can connect people and help build and heal relationships, ”added Richards. “Initially, we really wanted to keep everything very private, because I know there is a stigma that goes with that. I came to understand that if everyone comes, there is no stigma. It is therefore open to all. The goal is to break the stigma.

The Giving Closet offers clothing and footwear for all family members, from infants to adults. The downtown location will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I believe in meeting people where they are, not where you want them to be,” Richards said. “I am really looking forward to making these connections. “

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