Clothing Closet

These volunteers from the University of South Dakota are shown helping sort some of the clothing received by The Clothing Closet at its new location in Yankton’s Meridian District.

As families look towards making the most of summer fun, organizers for Yankton’s Clothing Closet are already preparing for fall with a Back2School Children’s Clothing Drive.

“We have found that we have a shortage of children’s clothes from our donations,” said Tara Bartekoske, Community Impact Director for the United Way of Greater Yankton. ”With back to school happening soon, we would really like to equip youth in our community for success, and being able to have enough clothing items when they start school is really important to starting the school year right.”

Any children’s clothes will work, she said.

Taking in only children’s clothing, Bartekoske hopes, will help get those needed items back on the Clothing Closet’s racks.

“Our biggest need is that pre-school age to young adult clothing items and shoes,” Bartekoske said. “Not housewares or toys.”

The drive began Friday, July 12 and will run until Friday, July 19. Anyone wishing to donate clean, gently used children’s clothing and shoes may do so at any of the three drop-off locations:

• United Way Nonprofit Center — 610 W. 23rd Street

• Walmart — 3001 Broadway Avenue

• DIGS clothing store — 110 W. 3rd Street

Those familiar with the Clothing Closet may have noticed that since the move this year to its new location at 203 E. 3rd Street, it has new policies and new hours of operation.

“The Clothing Closet no longer accepts donations at the current location,” Bartekoske said. “It is open one day per week and that is designated for families and individuals to come and shop, so we don’t accept donations during that time.”

The new Clothing Closet is open Mondays from 2-6 p.m., excluding holidays, and will only accept donations from drop-boxes and only during clothing drives.

Partly because of new management and partly because of the new space, some changes were deemed necessary.

In the last year, Clothing Closet organizers determined that a more central location would benefit its clients. Servant Hearts Clinic donated the location, which is adjacent to the clinic, but is also much smaller than the old space at the Human Service Center (HSC). The former location was about 3,000 square feet, but the current location is only 1,100-1,200 square feet.

“In order to better maintain the donations that we receive, we will be accepting clothing donations on a quarterly basis,” Bartekoske said. “We will plan quarterly community drives based on the need of the Clothing Closet and we will let the community know what we will be accepting and where.”

The hope is that drop-off boxes will be more convenient for those donating clothing because there are multiple locations that are open much of the time, unlike the Clothing Closet.

“Our goal is to keep the drop-off points consistent, but United Way will always be a drop-off spot,” Bartekoske said. “We have an enclosed trailer parked outside of United Way to keep the clothes safe and clean. Walmart has been an incredible partner for our clothing drives, and at this time we are partnering with DIGS downtown to be able to offer another downtown location for people to drop off items.”

Another new policy is that those who wish to shop at the Clothing Closet will no longer need vouchers.

“Individuals and families can show up at the Clothing Closet during our open times and fill out an initial intake form,” Bartekoske said. “We have an initial intake process that we conduct with them, asking them some family demographics and, really, the overall need for their family, and then they can go and shop from there.”

Families and individuals are tracked every time they shop at Clothing Closet so that United Way can report the impact of the Clothing Closet to donors and to the Yankton community, she said.

Donated clothing will not likely be available right away at the Clothing Closet, due to the need for volunteers to prepare the clothes.

“We are also working on recruiting volunteer groups to help us go through the donations,” Bartekoske said. “They make sure they are in good condition, sort them by size and put them on hangers so they can go upstairs and be ready for distribution.”

Any groups interested in volunteering to sort donations should contact the United Way.

“That (would) really help us,” she said. “We are really hoping that we are going to have clothing items for youth upstairs in time for back to school.”

Also, those interested in donating school supplies or backpacks should contact United Way of Greater Yankton about the upcoming “Stuff the Bus” program, Bartekoske said.

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