The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 3, 2012

Opening a door

Sal’s Closet helps those in need

BY CAROL ROEHM
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — When the Danville Salvation Army closed its thrift shop at the end of July, local families’ needs didn’t end with it.

Earlier this week the Salvation Army at 855 E. Fairchild St. opened Sal’s Closet to provide families and individuals in emergency situations with the essentials, such as clothing, shoes, housewares and bedding.

Sal’s Closet, which is located in the former thrift shop area, is open 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.

“They come here and meet with a caseworker and can get the items they need that day,” said Captain Judith Lowder.

Lowder said several families received help on Monday — the first day Sal’s Closet opened — and more families had appointments to come in today.

“Some serious cases came in here Monday,” she said. “One woman didn’t know what she would have done without our help.”

Lowder said the types of situations Sal’s Closet assists with are fire victims, abuse cases in which the victim and/or children must leave home immediately without any belongings and children who have had growth spurts.

“Some people are faced with, ‘Do I get my kids clothes and shoes, or do I pay rent?’” she said.

Karen Kirby, assistant caseworker, said Sal’s Closet also is open to families and individuals who have referrals from the Red Cross.

“If they come in with a referral from the Red Cross, they can pick out clothing for all the members of their family — three outfits a piece,” she said.

One outfit is composed of a shirt or a blouse and pants or a dress, underwear, socks and bra, and one pair of shoes.

Kirby said fire victims receive a “starter kit” with dishes, pots and pans, bedding and curtains.

“That helps a whole lot,” she said. “If you’ve had a fire and you’ve lost everything, it’s heartbreaking.”

Lowder said, “We see right now there’s still a need, and we’re sad the thrift store is closed, but we’re blessed we have Sal’s Closet.”

The decision to close the thrift store was a difficult one, but Lowder said the store had become too costly to keep open.

“We weren’t able to pay our bills, and we have to be good stewards with what we’re given,” she said.

Despite creating a Facebook page to promote the thrift store and changing the store’s hours, nothing seemed to increase business at the store, Lowder said.

“When the thrift store closed July 29, it worked out rather well because it was when Fairchild Street closed,” she said.

Still, Lowder and others at the Salvation Army recognized the thrift store was one of the few places in Danville where families and individuals who found themselves in certain situations could receive clothing and basic necessities free of charge.

“There are only one or two places where they can get clothes from,” Lowder said. “There was a need for a place where people could get clothes for themselves and their children.”

Lowder said Sal’s Closet works just like the Salvation Army’s voucher program.

“It depends, per case, how many outfits they receive,” she said.

Volunteers help keep Sal’s Closet looking tidy and neat.

“We have a group of volunteer workers who sort the donations and hang them up,” she said.

Lowder said she believes the items the Salvation Army has received since the thrift store closed are of better quality.

“We’re getting better quality because people know we’re not selling it,” she said.

Lowder said she is “excited to see what happens” in the future with Sal’s Closet.

“We’re grateful,” she said.

The Salvation Army is a United Way agency.

FYI

Sal’s Closet, which is located in the Danville Salvation Army’s former thrift shop area at 855 E. Fairchild St., is open 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.