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Clothing closet expands

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Hamlet charity for needy provides services, makes gifts.

By Todd Cohen

HAMLET, N.C. — A three-year-old effort by a group of Hamlet citizens to sell used clothing to benefit needy people has expanded into a charitable enterprise that provides other services and makes gifts to local groups.

Modeled on Stanly Christian Ministries, formed three decades ago by three churches in Stanly County, the Christian Clothing Closet in Hamlet was formed in 2000 with a $20,000 grant from the Cole Foundation in Charlotte.

The volunteer group, which used the grant to hire a store manager, moved to a new location a year later that doubled its space, and then opened a second store in Ellerbe in August 2002.

The charity has used revenue from store sales, which totaled $4,000 a month in November and December, to make $15,000 in grants.

Those range from $500 for the Richmond County Humane Society to $1,000 each for the Richmond County Partnership for Children; Womenfolk, the Battered Women’s Shelter in Rockingham, and the Meals on Wheels program of the Richmond County Council on Aging.

The Christian Clothing Closet, which depends on a core of about 20 volunteers, also has branched into new lines of business, says Bobbie Williams, president.

A new venture provides Morrison Correctional Institution in Hoffman with used couches, chairs and other upholstered furniture it cannot sell.

Inmates in an upholstery class at the prison refurbish the furniture, which the store then resells.

The group, which also has provided free clothing to roughly 900 people referred to it by the Richmond County Department of Social Services, also bought a building in Hamlet last spring in which it opened a food pantry.

The group contributes funds to the pantry, which is operated by the Prayer and Faith Temple, and to a food bank run by the Department of Social Services.

Other projects include contributing copy paper for the current school year to Mineral Springs Elementary School in Ellerbe, providing a full scholarship for a student at Richmond Community College, maintaining crisis centers at both clothing store that donate household goods to fire victims and people with emergency needs, and selling rejected clothing for a penny a pound to Williams Medical Textiles in Advance.

The group’s motto is “shop with us and help your community,” Williams says. “I hope other communities will realize what can be done with clothes ready to be disposed of.”

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