The Michigan Avenue Baptist Church held the grand opening of its clothing closet on Saturday.
The Michigan Avenue Clothing Closet (802 W. Michigan Ave.) will serve Chickasha residents who need clothing and other services in an emergency.
Currently, the cloakroom is open every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and every third Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Until now, residents on the north side of Chickasha had no wardrobes or pantries.
“We’re right in the middle of this very needy neighborhood,” said Amy Willoughby, secretary of the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church.
The clothes closet has been a work in progress for a few years, with a lot of progress in the last six months. Since July 2021, teachers and church volunteers have been working to get the clothes closet ready to open to the public. Willoughby said volunteer Rebecca Poor spent many hours sorting and organizing the donations.
The Michigan Avenue Clothes Closet has held a smooth opening for the past two months. During that time, 30 to 40 families came through the doors, Willoughby said.
The Chickasha community has also been generous in donating items for the closet.
“The people have been amazing and have given us a lot,” Willoughby said.
Donations can be dropped off during business hours or under the carport at the side of the house anytime.
Through donations, the church was able to purchase a washer and dryer. Donated clothes are washed before being distributed. There are separate changing rooms for children, men and women. Clothes and shoes are neatly stored in each room. Those who just need a warm coat or hat can grab one from the clothes rack, which is just inside the door.
There is also a kitchen stocked with emergency supplies. Residents can also make an appointment to use the shower or the washer and dryer, if needed.
Pastor Tony Miracle said the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church saw the need for resources to be available not only there, but also during the weekend period. Most resources are only available Monday through Friday, he said. This means that many people who work a typical weekday schedule may have difficulty accessing these resources.
Miracle said the mission of the clothes closet goes beyond clothing and feeding people in need.
“We want to be the ones who hand things over to the people [for] that one-on-one connection,” Miracle said.
The volunteers also pray for those who come to the clothes closet. They will offer to pray with the customers. If the person refuses, the volunteers will pray for them after they leave.
“We are looking to start conversations. We want to help people, but meeting their needs only physically and not spiritually makes no sense. That’s not what a ministry is.
Willoughby said the church hopes to attract more volunteers. The more volunteers, the more the clothes closet can help the community. Anyone who passes a background check can register.
Volunteers can sign up for a variety of tasks, including: washing clothes at home or on site, sorting donations, folding clothes, being a prayer partner, greeting customers and helping them register, assisting customers in the clothing room and/or soliciting donations.
Currently, volunteer time slots are 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays and/or Thursdays.
To volunteer, make an appointment, or for more information, call Michigan Avenue Baptist Church at 405-224-5379.