Community Closet in the Leechburg Church celebrates 10 years of association work for the needy

Pastor James Arter of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Leechburg has seen the impact of the church’s ward cupboard on families and individuals.

Years ago a young girl came with her father to buy clothes. She was so taken with the project’s mission that she later returned with her own clothes to donate.

“She wanted to hang the clothes by herself,” said Arter.

It was one of those moments that showed Arter and longtime volunteer Kathy Munko that the Church is doing its job. Arter said he couldn’t believe how quickly time has passed since the church opened its ward closet in April 2012.

“That brought the church together,” he said.

The aim of the initiative is to provide people in need with clothing at an affordable price. All items cost 20 cents. The closet was open twice a year until 2015, when the church opened every third Saturday of the month.

Arter said most of the calls the church had received were from organizations helping a foster child or from grandparents raising children.

The proceeds will be donated to a local nonprofit or organization each month, Munko said. The Church holds a meeting in January to select locations to receive donations. The proceeds went to the Leechburg Food Bank, Leechburg Volunteer Fire Company, Lower Kiski Ambulance Service and more.

“When you buy clothes, you give something back to the community,” said Munko.

Items are rotated to ensure everything is seasonally appropriate. The clothes are sorted by size and gender. Shoes, handbags and winter essentials such as gloves and hats can be bought.

An estimated 20 volunteers come to help sort clothes and manage the closet on Saturdays it is open, Munko said.

“We all love what we do because we help people,” she said.

Arter said the church saw an increase in attendance at the wardrobe in November. He said 2,000 items had been sold. The closet stays full because donations are always pouring in, he said. Children’s clothing and coats are the most sought-after items.

“We expect a large turnout at this time,” he said.

Donations of clean, carefully used clothing, purses, shoes, coats and winter utensils can be placed in the basket on the porch of the church.

Tanisha Thomas is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Tanisha at 412-480-7306, [email protected], or on Twitter .

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