Below the Subway restaurant in Nashville is a thrift shop that offers secondhand clothes but firsthand community support.
“It’s the Christian way to do it,” said Juanita Moberly, a volunteer and board member for the Community Closet.
“I’m doing this as a Christian mission myself. My mission work right now is right here,” board director Norma Jean Boren said.
Everyone who works in the Community Closet on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday is a volunteer.
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The nonprofit organization gives thousands of dollars back to the community each year. Last year, Community Closet donated $22,630 to 26 organizations, such as Access Brown County, Habitat for Humanity, the local volunteer fire departments, the Women’s Resource Center and Mother’s Cupboard.
Boren and Moberly credit some of the financial contributions to their “bag sales,” which happen on the first Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of each month. Customers can fill a basket for just $3.21.
For each “bag sale,” a local organization is randomly picked from a hat and receives all of the proceeds. In January, BETA, the local teen organization, received $650. In December, the Silver Linings Women’s Shelter received $1,150.
The first Tuesday of February brought in $524 to the closet with 154 transactions.
“You should have been here Tuesday. I can’t believe the amount of merchandise that went out of here. It was crazy,” Boren said.
Because all the workers are volunteers, the only expenses the store has are utilities and rent. Everything else goes back to the community.
A board of seven women decides which organizations get what money, Boren said.
Recently, the women hired a person who comes in and cleans the shop once a month, and it has been noticed by customers.
“That’s what we’re working for. We want it to be beautiful so they will want to shop and spend their money so we can help people in the community,” Boren said. “What goes around, comes around.”
Women’s, men’s, children’s and maternity clothes are available for purchase at the Community Closet along with purses, books, toys and other smaller items. Volunteers organized all the clothing into sizes during the past six to seven months to make it easier for customers to find what they want, Boren said.
Not only does the Community Closet support organizations in the county, it also assists individuals who are down on their luck.
Moberly spoke of a man who was fighting cancer and needed help paying his rent. When she called to tell him she had sent the check to pay for a portion of his rent that month, he said, “Oh, God bless you. You don’t know how much weight that takes off of my shoulder.”
“He was so happy, and it’s worth it just to hear that,” she said.
People who need assistance with their utilities or rent must have a reference from their township trustee or a church. The Community Closet is usually the last resort for financial assistance, Boren said.
But if the Community Closet has the funds available to assist, it will once a year.
Brown County Schools also reaches out to the Community Closet when children need certain items like coats or shoes.
“Whatever they need, they will call and we will supply that,” Boren said.
Currently, the women are working with one school to help a family pay for a child’s medication.
When a family falls victim to a flood, fire or other disaster, the Community Closet is there to help.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are when workers sort through their intake, which can sometimes be overwhelming.
Looking at the pile in their back room Feb. 5, Boren said they have a good handle on it right now with the help of volunteers.
Despite being closed for a couple of days in January — the store follows the schools’ schedule, since some of the volunteers care for their grandchildren when school is out — business has been good, Boren said.
When asked why it is important to support the community with the funds from the store, Moberly responded, “Why not?”
“They need help,” Boren added. “It’s to keep things running smoothly.”
The following is a list of contributions the Community Closet, a nonprofit organization, made to organizations in Brown County in 2014.
- Access Brown County — $2,000
- BETA — $800
- Boy Scouts — $426
- Brown County Schools — $5,100
- Children’s Auction — $1,000
- EMS — $1,500
- Volunteer fire departments — $2,500
- Habitat for Humanity — $554
- Humane society — $1,200
- Mother’s Cupboard — $150
- Pregnancy Care Center — $500
- Salvation Army — $750
- St. Vincent de Paul — $1,500
- Sister’s Little Fund — $500
- Shop With a Cop — $900
- TRIAD — $1,500
- Women’s Resource Center — $1,750
2011 — $16,092
2012 — $7,556
2013 — $21,298.50
2014 — $22,630
The Community Closet accepts donations on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Due to the store’s small space, it cannot accept furniture, TVs or other large appliances, but clothing, books, toys and other small items are welcome.
The store is open every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., but that is not the ideal day for donations since there aren’t many workers there sorting on Saturdays.
“That’s for people who work and can’t get here otherwise,” volunteer Norma Jean Boren said.