After being temporarily closed, the Clothes Closet and Food Pantry’s business license was reapproved at Monday’s Brandenburg City Council meeting.
The Clothes Closet has been in operation in some from since the mid-90s, but it has grown substantially over the years according to Director Robin Brown. Brown, who is also a pastor at Grace Awakening Church, took over as Director in 2015.
The business offers much more than a thrift store that’s open to the public. They also provide a bevy of services to community members who are struggling. Through a partnership with Community Action, the Clothes Closet offers a voucher system that allows those in need to obtain 30 personal items, such as shoes and coats, per person every six months. Money made from sales in the store help support various projects, including their food pantry and a program that helps people get back on their feet after an emergency like a fire. The business solicits donations from the public and repurposes those items so that their use may be extended.
In late September Brown says the city told her an anonymous complaint was made about the business. After an inspection, it was deemed that the Clothes Closet needed to be temporarily closed for safety reasons as there were multiple violations that were considered a fire hazard.
Brown says that she was surprised their license was suspended, but she knew that they had some problems. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clothes Closet has lost a substantial number of volunteers, as many as 10 according to Brown. Many of their volunteers were seniors or came from programs that have been suspended due to the pandemic. Because of the lack of volunteers, donations kept piling up, and there were fewer hands to sort through them and organize them.
“On any given day, we get enough donations that it would take two to three full-time people all day to go through it,” said Brown. “Some days it may not be that way, and some days it’s all of us out back doing it.”
Brown, however, looked at the situation with optimism. She said it has given then an opportunity to reset and restructure, which was needed. Herself and the remaining volunteers worked long hours in order to make the facility safer, and in the city’s eyes, they accomplished that goal.
As a pastor, she kept faith that this was for the best all along. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Community members will not be losing a valuable resource to them during hard times, and, just maybe, the temporary closure will make the Clothes Closet an even stronger force of good in the long run for the area.