116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The North Liberty Community Pantry is opening a new community service to provide free clothing to families in need all year.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of the North Liberty Community Closet will take place on Friday at 9 a.m. Tours and refreshments will be provided.
“Next to food and toiletry items, clothing is most frequently requested at the pantry,” said Executive Director Kaila Rome. “There is no other service provider giving away clothing for free in our community, so we are taking this opportunity to help meet the needs of our neighbors.”
The North Liberty Community Closet is located just west of the pantry and the Growing Together Garden, 89 North Jones Blvd. in North Liberty. It’s housed in a building — located on the property of First United Methodist Church of North Liberty — that formerly housed the pantry when it first opened.
The Community Closet will provide in-season clothing and shoes for adults, children and infants.
Rome said the new service can be a major benefit for families with young children, who grow out their clothes quickly and can’t always afford new items each year. The closet can even meet the needs of adults, such as those in need of a new outfit for a job interview or similar situations.
“We try to keep the barrier as low as possible,” Rome said.
Individuals and families can shop at the closet once a week, and each person can take a maximum five items of clothing.
In addition to opening the Community Closet, Rome said officials will extend its socks and underwear giveaway the pantry conducts twice a year. Now, families will receive new socks and underwear three times a year.
The closet will be open during regular pantry shopping hours: Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. It’s also open Tuesday and Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m.
Each year, the pantry serves 600 families, or 2,300 individuals, from North Liberty and across rural Johnson County. The pantry does not serve residents of Iowa City or Coralville.
Rome anticipates the Community Closet will serve as many individuals — meaning the new service could allocate hundreds of thousands of items of clothing a year.
In recent years, Iowa families have benefited from an increase in state government food support, including as expanded SNAP benefits. However, there has never been a government-sponsored program, either at the state or federal level, to offer free or subsidized clothing for Americans in need.
“Clothing costs also rise, and your options are really limited,” Rome said. “Families are either going without or getting them secondhand.”
The pantry has provided clothing to its clients in the past, but Rome say it was typically a small selection that didn’t fully address the need of the families they served. Officials wanted to offer a more robust selection of clothing.
The North Liberty Community Pantry has seen an increase in community members seeking to donate used clothing for their clients. Rome said throughout the pandemic, many individuals had been cleaning out their closets and inquiring about donating their items to the pantry.
The closet is accepting donations of new or gently used, in-season items Monday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m.
The organization always is looking for volunteers to sort clothing and help serve families during open hours, officials said. Those interested in volunteering at the North Liberty Community Closet can visit northlibertycommunitypantry.org or contact staff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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