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MAAC provides community support through Clothing Depot

Posted 5 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Group raises $35,000 annually for many causes

Photos by Sue Cook – The Clothing Depot Board (from left) consists of Sharon Breckinridge, Donna Barnum, Alice Zacher, and Sue Metzo. Breckinridge is the sorting room manager. Barnum is the clothing store manager. Zacher is responsible for seasonal and household items. Metzo does finances among many other tasks. Each woman and many of the volunteers are members of different area churches, which work together for the sake of the community, regardless of denomination.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

MEDINA – For more than four decades a group of Medina churches having been running The Clothing Depot, an effort that has helped connect Christians and also provide low-cost clothing to the community.

“I think of it as just recycling God’s world,” said Barb Hancock, a volunteer for 24 years. “We do a prayer before we start. It’s an inspiration and we have great friendships here. It’s really nice working with other Christians. It’s also a good place to come and find things.”

In 1968, the State Department of Education reached out to school superintendents asking them to provide opportunities for equal education to less fortunate students.
A group called the Task Force was formed and in the fall joined with a local Baptist organization of women who were making pajamas for children that had none. The program evolved to helping adults as well and began to incorporate more of the area’s churches.

In 1970, the Medina Area Association of Churches (MAAC) was formed from the groups that had combined and took over operation of The Clothing Depot, which was already established in the community. After moving the location multiple times with the need for more space, The MAAC Clothing Depot moved into the Calvary Church, the former Medina High School. MAAC includes 16 area churches, and welcomes more churches to participate and extend their community outreach.

Debbie Goodwin, front, and Jade Kenyon browse the racks looking for more items to add to their already-full arms.

“All of this is volunteer,” said Sharon Breckinridge. The depot currently has 37 volunteers who give between two and 14 hours a week individually.

“I like to be around the ladies who work here. It’s a good way to keep myself busy since I retired,” said volunteer Rhea Martin.

“It helps the community and makes us all feel good,” said Jerry Brace, a volunteer who also works in the back sorting clothing. “It’s an opportunity that older people can do to serve.”

The depot sells clothing for very low prices. Shirts and pants are $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. The depot also has a half-price day on the fourth Monday of each month. Items such as coats, evening gowns and suits are priced up to $5. Even wedding gowns are available starting at $15. Sometimes customers convert the wedding gowns into communion and baptismal dresses for children. One of their biggest demographics is thrifty mothers replacing items as their children grow out of them.

Anything that is not used doesn’t get thrown away. “We don’t throw much of anything away, unless it’s really, really junk,” stressed Alice Zacher.

The items that are not purchased in the depot are recycled in some form. Clothing is given to St. Pauly Textile near Rochester. The depot also gives blankets to local vet clinics. The really worn clothing is given as rags to a local professional that cleans stove hoods and kitchens.

Metals and electronics are taken to recycling centers. Cardboard is picked up by the Arc of Orleans. Some clothing is also set aside specifically for the Lions Club when it holds its October scarecrow-making contest.

Volunteers sort through the items that get brought to the door or are dropped in the off-hours chute. The make sure that zippers work, the buttons are all attached and that there are no rips or stains. When garage sale season is over, the area near the chute is filled.

“We call that job security,” joked Zacher. “It’s a labor of love. Plain and simple.”

While some who come in need the inexpensive clothing to fulfill a need, sometimes customers come in for items to use in crafts. One customer comes in regularly for silverware to turn it into jewelry items. Rose Schelegel, pictured here with Robert Allard, buys shirts and turns them into aprons.

The depot sells nearly anything clothing or household, except furniture. Besides clothing, there are shoes, games, toys, linens, small electronics and household appliances, jewelry and more. There is even a special section for seasonal decorative items.

The depot is also a huge success in its ability to give back to the community. The MAAC Clothing Depot has donated approximately $35,000 in the last year to various organizations. Twice a year a donation is made to Orleans Community Action.

Hospice, the local food pantries and Habitat for Humanity also receive monetary donations from MAAC, though the list is significantly more extensive, including dozens of other organizations. MAAC even provides scholarships to a select number of students each year in the amount of $500.

“That’s really impressive when you consider we’re only open eight hours a week,” commented Sue Metzo, “and more so when you consider our prices. It’s so thrilling what we do.” She says that prices stay low and gift donations are generous because of the volunteers.

MAAC is also responsible for the Medina Clergy Fellowship, the MAAC Christmas Program and the Medina Area Christian Theater ministries, as well as several outreach programs such as vacation bible school, Lenten luncheons, pastoral counseling and more.

The Clothing Depot is open the public. The building is located at 324 Catherine St. in Medina. The entrance for The MAAC Clothing Depot is in back. The hours are Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, and Tuesday evenings from 5 to 7. To volunteer at the MAAC Clothing Depot, call Joanne Arnett at (585) 798-1224. The depot also accepts donated items.