PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The idea of going to a store and shopping for clothing is a benefit not all of us have. But one organization is making it possible for our city’s most vulnerable to have this experience, too.
On a cold November day, shoppers line the streets outside the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion In Philadelphia.
Shauna Ekezie greets people at the door, taking tickets. “You are number 88. Good morning! Number 90, good morning!”
The tickets get you into the latest Our Closet pop-up shop. Shauna is the program manager, and Melanie London is the Our Closet program director. She ticks off what they have.
“Men’s and women’s, girls’ and boys’. We sort our accessories, all sorts of accessories, from handbags and ties and belts and hats and gloves and scarves,” Melanie said.
One hundred tickets are gone before doors even open.
“That ticket determines what order they shop in,” Shauna explained. “Once their number is called, they can come in and shop for five items.”
Our Closet brings free clothing straight to those in need, no questions asked.
“We don’t put you through loops and hoops to getting the clothing, because a lot of our shoppers are already in vulnerable situations,” Shauna said. “If you have a need, you can come in and get it.”
Their mission is to deliver free clothing to people in need with dignity in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
“Our shoppers are like our family,” Melanie said.
“Make you forget what other problems you have going on outside of Our Closet,” Shauna said. “It’s a safe space. You can get a hug, you can get a joke, you can get a laugh. That’s our number one goal.”
With only a staff of two, Melanie and Shauna rely on the help of volunteers, like Wendy Singer of Montgomery County.
“What’s your favorite part of this day?” Chandler Lutz asked Wendy.
“Just when someone finds something that they really need, and they are so happy,” Wendy said. “I walk out and I feel like I did something good today.”
Since 2011, Our Closet has grown to 16 locations for their pop-up shops. It hosts an average of seven each month.
“There’s no words for it,” said one shopper, Saniya Williams of West Philadelphia. “They’re just awesome.”
We’re giving this volunteer-driven program “3 Cheers!” not only for their passion but their love for what they do.
“This is an amazing job,” Shauna said. “I love what I do.”
“Your job is pretty cool too,” Melanie told Chandler with a laugh, “but I think mine is the best.”
Find out more about Our Closet at https://www.ourclosetpa.org