Clothing Bank closing doors

After 51 years, Red Deer Community Clothing Service, commonly referred to as the clothing bank, is throwing in the towel.

After 51 years, Red Deer Community Clothing Service, commonly referred to as the clothing bank, is throwing in the towel.

“We didn’t want to but there were things beyond our control,” said president Ted Hayden. “We had to close down because we couldn’t see how we’d be able to maintain our services.”

June 26 is the last day for those in need to come in and pick up the donated clothing and other household items, such as sheets and dishes, that the charity provides for free.

The final decision was made recently at a board meeting when three of the seven members announced their resignation.

That was the “straw that broke the camel’s back as they say,” Hayden said.

United Way, which had been contributing funds to the charity for their rent for over 40 years, cut their dollar input in December, which was also an obstacle, he said.

“It’s always been a financial struggle. … Our rent is nearly $3,000 a month and our budget is around $34,000 a year.”

While the non-profit had applied for additional grant money this year, such as the Alberta Lottery Fund through Alberta Culture, they had not heard back at the time of the board meeting.

A new landlord took over the building where the clothing service is located at 5005 Ross St. at the beginning of this month and wanted to change a number of things.

The board talked it over and decided “it was time” to shut the doors, Hayden said.

He said the need for something like free or low cost clothing will be met by other organizations in the city like Victory Church, Bibles for Missions and Bargain Treasures.

Much of the winter clothing they had in storage has already been dispersed to these places, he added.

The annual Coats for Kids campaign, which the Community Clothing Service participated in, should not be impacted as it’s run by the Christmas Bureau.

Another reason that contributed to the closure is the aging face of the organization, said Hayden. The service is completely volunteer run and 80 per cent of those 30 regular volunteers are seniors.

“We just didn’t feel sustainable. It’s hard. Many (volunteers) are wondering what they’re going to do now.”

Hayden began volunteering with the group three years ago after his wife Alice got involved with sorting through the donations.

He stepped up to become president when no one else would and the service was in danger of closing down in 2012.

Started by a number of women from various churches around Red Deer, Community Clothing Service has grown and helps over 1,000 people each month now, Hayden said.

The nonprofit will continue with its regular hours Tuesday to Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. until the end of June or until everything is off the shelves.

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