St. James church Clothes Closet a dream come true

In the spring of 2002, a group of women were having a discussion in the kitchen of St. James United Methodist Church. It was stated that to have a dream could give direction and a purpose to one’s life. When asked what her dream was, June Johnsen replied that it was to have a building on the church property that would house a boutique that would provide clothing to anyone who needed it. She received a phone call a few days later from the Rev. Marge Gage, who said, “I didn’t find a building, but I did find a room.” Thus, the beginning of the Clothes Closet and a dream come true.

The Clothes Closet has expanded twice and is now housed in the wing of the fellowship hall. Our mission statement is: The Clothes Closet is a boutique with gently used clothing for anyone whose financial situation is such that they would benefit by a gift of clothing. Everything is free. All we ask is that they are taking the clothes for themselves or their family. There is no screening process. It’s open to anyone who has a financial need at any time. For example: mothers going back to school, people with an illness in the family, someone needing some nicer clothes for a job interview, even someone needing clothes for a special occasion such as a wedding.

Joyce Hawkins is coordinator of the Clothes Closet and she has a dedicated group of 14 volunteers who sort, fold and display donated clothing for all ages and help people find clothing for themselves and their families. Approximately 800 hours a year are spent by these volunteers, just on Tuesdays! Another 400 hours are spent switching the in-season clothing for out-of-season clothing.

Many people, schools and churches in Merrimack, and specifically our St. James community, generously donate clothing and money to the Clothes Closet. The monetary donations are used to buy underwear and socks for children.

We make use of everything given to us. We have given excess donations to the United Methodist Economic Ministries, Merrimack elementary schools, Liberty House, the Stork Project and to other local and international organizations in need.

We hope anyone who has a need for clothing will come see us. St. James UMC is located at 646 Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack. The Clothes Closet is open each Tuesday morning from 9 a.m.-noon. If these times are not suitable, please contact the church office at 424-7459 and special arrangements can be made.

We look forward to meeting you and sharing our clothing with you. When you meet the volunteers you will know that we are here to help, and that you are a blessing to us.

– Submitted by St. James UMC and June Johnsen, St. James UMC Mission chairperson