Clothes for Warmth / Clothes for Success
If you’ve donated clothes to the Damiano, you’ve helped contribute to one of our two programs that provide people with clothing- the Free Store and Clothes That Work. The Free Store opened in 1983 and was originally called the Clothing Exchange before it was renamed earlier this year. This program provides everyday clothing for people that need it. Guests can come in, grab a plastic bag and fill it with anything they want from shoes to gloves and winter coats. Everything is organized like a real store so people can find things easily. As the name suggests, everything in the store is 100% free and donated! This was one of my favorite things I learned when I first started working at the Damiano. Nobody has to wonder if they can afford to provide clothes for themselves or their family. This past year, over 225,000 items were given away from the Free Store to almost 10,000 shoppers! During our Community Connect event in October, we gave away 450 winter coats before the cold days of November came.
Oftentimes, people need clothes that are more formal than what is found in the Free Store. Right across the hall, guests can find the Clothes That Work room. This program provides appropriate apparel for settings such as interviews, jobs, court, funerals and weddings. Guests that provide proof of an upcoming interview can take two outfits. If they are offered a job, they can come back and get five outfits. When I first heard about the program, I expected to find a lot of dress shirts and ties. However, a majority of the work clothes were for jobs such as construction. This past year, over 6,700 items were given away. Of the people that came in, 254 were in the process of interviewing for jobs and 660 were employed!
Due to the frigid temperatures of Duluth, guests still have access to winter coats, gloves and hats even when the clothes programs are closed. The bins and racks are placed in the hallway outside the rooms. The picture on the right shows a small library of books collected by donations.
Donna, the Program Coordinator, excels at maintaining and expanding the Free Store and Clothes That Work programs so they can help as many people as possible. With so many items of clothing being donated and sorted, she also relies on the dedicated group of volunteers that regularly help throughout the week. Walking by, you can always see them on their feet working with a mountain of donated items. They work hard so people can have access to things they need.
Our donation hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. If you have clothing or small household goods and appliances, consider donating them to the Damiano Center. Stop by Room 212 to meet Donna or one of our amazing volunteers and they will gladly help you! Visit our website or email Donna if you have any questions about what we need, what we accept, or are wondering anything else about the program.