By Kathy DeMott
Shopping for clothing is fun for many. For others it’s stressful due to the time and expense. However, when you enter the ChapNaz Community Clothes Closet, located at Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene on East U Avenue in Vicksburg, it’s more like a boutique.
The new and gently used clothing items are neatly hung up by category and sizes. All the clothing is clean and in good condition. The closet only accepts clothing without tears or stains. Everything is free.
The ministry was started in mid-September by Exchange (ChapNaz Ladies Ministries) and is co-directed by Sandy Johnson and Debbie Bosworth. It officially opened the first week of October to help others by providing free clothing. The church received 50 bins of clothing from a local church. Sandy and Debbie got to work with a heart to provide quality items for anyone in need. This new intergenerational ministry is staffed by ChapNaz women – and a few men – ranging from early 20’s to late 80’s. They help wash, sort and display items. Friendly volunteers welcome “shoppers” on Thursdays from 4-5:30 p.m. or by appointment, which can be scheduled by calling 269.649.2392.
College student Olivia Lewis volunteers and helps select stylish clothing for youth and teens. Her aunt, Beckie Ensfield, was helping so Olivia also wanted to get involved in providing a good experience for young families, middle-aged and elderly shoppers. The ChapNaz Clothes Closet has served many large families, some with up to eight children. The goal of the ministry is to provide for and meet the needs of the community. It is also an excellent resource for families providing foster care.
ChapNaz staff have been delighted to hear positive feedback from shoppers. Customers have enthusiastically commented on the cleanliness, organization and “good smell” that permeates the clothing closet rooms. Customers are welcome to choose from infant clothing to adult men’s and women’s clothing. There are also a wide variety of shoes, many of which were donated by First Day Shoe Fund in Portage. Many church members have purchased new clothing to donate as well.
Currently there are many winter coats available. One woman on a limited income said she had no winter clothing. She left the closet with warm clothes, a winter coat, hat and gloves. She was appreciative of the help, especially during the pandemic when finances are limited.
“Our local community works together to help each other,” Pastor Dave Downs said. “South County Community Services and Generous Hands have enthusiastically referred clients to the new ChapNaz Community Clothes Closet.” Local community members who have heard about the opening of the CNCCC have responded with generous donations. Anyone in need is welcome, and names or information from visitors is not required.
Those in need can visit the closet at 7520 East U Ave. at 29th in Vicksburg. Those with gently used (up-to-date styles) clothing, outerwear or footwear can drop it off at ChapNaz Church from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday or from 4-5:30 p.m. on Thursday.