PITTSBURGH — Items from clothing to small household appliances, can be found at The Community Clothes Closet in New Kensington.
The nonprofit marks its 10th anniversary in December and has become a staple in the community, especially for those struggling after a house fire or going through a hard time.
The clothes on the numerous racks are open to all who need them at the Community Clothes Closet, which is located at St. Joseph Church in New Kensington. But the nonprofit offers much more than clothing.
“So we offer a lending library we have a place for everyone to sit down and have a cup of coffee and cup of tea. We have household items,” said Community Clothes Closet director, Christina Discello.
Discello got the idea 13 years ago when she worked in a local school and noticed that students needed clothes for interviews. But she quickly realized the need was much greater and launched the closet to the whole community 10 years ago under Mt. Saint Peter’s Parish, which works with St. Joseph Church as well.
Since the pandemic started, the need for this program has grown. It’s run on only volunteers and donations.
“I see that definitely need in the community,” said Patty Stone, who has been volunteering for nine months.
About 25 volunteers come out multiple times each week to help organize the donations and get them on the racks.
“We see maybe about 80 to100 people a week, which is a lot of people in four hours,” said Discello. “We run strictly on donations and volunteers, and we never know what we’re going to get. We put out there some really nice high-end clothing.”
The items are minimally priced, or you pay what you can. Discello says the pricing was encouraged by customers. The highest-priced items are winter coats at $3.
“I think people need to feel a little bit of dignity that they came here and purchased clothing,” said Discello. “They came here and purchased a household item that they need. It’s not a handout.”
Robin Richards, a grandma, says no one should feel shame coming here as times are hard and everyone needs help.
“A lot of families don’t have warm clothes or the small things to keep them going,” said Robin Richards, of Arnold.
By spring, all the winter clothes will be given away and anything left will go to St. Vincent De Paul stores.
If you would like to donate your items, you can drop them off at 1129 Kenneth Avenue, New Kensington, Pennsylvania during operation hours, which right now are Mondays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Community Clothes Closet is closed for the holiday and will reopen on Jan. 3.