It was about 8:15 AM Monday morning, on April 27, 2015, when volunteers of the Clothes Closet began arriving to begin set up for clothing distribution later in the morning.
The chairs had to be removed from the conference room and were arranged side by side down the hallway just outside the conference room.
The four tables were set in their assigned space so two would be used to serve customers from, one would hold the socks and underwear containers and the fourth would hold the plastic bins with short pants in them.
Next came five racks of clothes from the storage area. The racks were on wheels making it easy to move them. The sweater and suit rack first followed by the rack with trousers waist size 42 to 54 on the top bar and long sleeve shirts hanging from the bottom bar.
There were three more racks of clothes holding pants with waist sizes ranging from 28 through 40. On the bottom bar of those racks were short sleeve shirts, t-shirts, and polo shirts. These fit against the back wall of the conference room.
Now a table was set up in the storage area, next to the conference room. Filling the socks and underwear containers was next and then sorting through the donated clothing inspecting for acceptance. The guideline is, “If we wouldn’t wear it we don’t hand it out”.
This was a normal Monday morning. But, this was not a normal Monday morning. Today we were going to be serving enough customers to reach 20,000 total since the Closet began in October 1999.
There would be cake, refreshments, visitors and a gift card for the 20,000th customer.
This Clothes Closet had become a ministry over the years. We prayed for the customers before we began serving. In our prayer we always included, “Lord, God help us to see Christ in those we serve today and help them to see Christ in us.” The connectivity of the prayer changed each one of us and the atmosphere in that conference room.
Written by Ralph Eckwall, Coordinator for the Clothes Closet
Clothes Closet for Homeless Men opened in October 1999 after a request from the Austin Interreligious Ministries to the Capital District United Methodist Men's group. After five locations across town, they settled at present location at the Central Presbyterian Church on 8th Street and Brazos.
The distribution includes:
- Jeans, Khaki, dress pants or shorts
- Polo or button down shirts
- Socks & underwear
- Hygiene items