I’ve always loved clothing growing up. Shocker, right? But really, I have always loved the act of putting on clothing. Being a morning person was never tough for me, because there was something so exciting about waking up in the morning and choosing what I would wear. Oddly enough, my sartorial journey started with uniforms at a Catholic school.
Uniforms taught me from a young age that what you wear doesn’t matter. It really didn’t matter whether I paired the white, collared shirt with the black trousers or the jumper. The exciting part for me was having the options. Brand names and price are and never have been important to me. Clothing is about so much more than that.
Fast forward to high school. My closest friend and I would wake up hours early for school just so we could drive over to each others houses and essentially play dress up. The magic from my childhood never faded. We’d pair dresses with boots and shorts with tights and dare each other to wear them to school. It wasn’t so much about what we wore as it was about experimenting with fashion. It brought us together in a way that words couldn’t and made every morning fun.
But not everyone has the same positive experience with clothing. Some people don’t have the options that I once did. It’s not always about experimenting with personal style. Sometimes it’s just about getting by. That’s where I come in.
I am now the Director of The Clothing Room.
Unbeknownst to me, I had this little gem of a non-profit thrift store in my community my entire life. The Clothing Room was started in 1999 by the Perry Women’s League as a place that people from my community could come and find clothing at no charge to them. I only stumbled onto it while I was trying to raise awareness for the Blue Jeans Go Green Denim Drive.
When I was in high school, I took a Perry Service Learning course. The course required three days a week in the classroom and two days out volunteering. It changed my outlook on life in a big way, so I knew I wanted to ask them to get involved with the denim drive. What I got was so much more.
They told me about how they recently took over the Clothing Room. There were a few students helping to clean up and expand the room, and the teachers asked me to get involved.
The Clothing Room is a non-profit, free thrift store for my community. You couldn’t ask me to create a more ideal passion project.
I honestly couldn’t believe it when they asked me to get so heavily involved. They gave me full reign to do as little or as much as I wanted to and devote as much time as I wanted. Naturally, I dove in head first. My job is to stock the room, mentor the students involved, get clothing, and help make sure that kids in elementary, middle, and high school that need clothes get them.
This passion project for me goes a lot further than just helping create a thrift store. It’s about taking that feeling of excitement and fun that I have when getting dressed in the morning and helping others feels the same. It’s about giving back to my community, helping people, and putting everything that I’ve learned about fashion, style, and purpose, and helping others.
If even one person feels excited and less stressed about getting dressed in the morning after visiting the Clothing Room, I have done my job.
My hope is to make the Clothing Room into a positive experience to everyone who visits it. From the small things, like organization and style, to the big things, like making sure we have sizes for everyone in need, every little bit matters. I’m only getting started on this journey, but I’m so excited to take you guys with me.
I planned to make this year about giving back any way that I could. This, for me, is the perfect start. I have no idea where it will take me or how it will grow, but I know that I will do everything I can to make it great.
For those of you in my area, the Clothing Room is open to community members that qualify on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 11 am and the second Friday of every month from 1 to 3pm. The hope is to expand the hours and the selection eventually, but we’re start slow and steady.
If you’d like to donate clothing, please feel free to contact me directly or drop off your clothing at the PSL Room or the Perry Women’s League. We take everything and anything, as long as it is in decent condition.
Passion project aren’t always the best way to get rich quick or become some well-known superstar overnight. But helping people in need and doing what you love are two very good reasons to put your heart into something, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.