Community Clothes Closet relocates to a Newberg church, but its mission remains the same

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Debbie Russ, director of Community Clothes Closet, sorts garments recently donated to the organization, which has moved its operations to a daylight basement of the First United Methodist Church in Newberg. The new space gives the organization more space and allows better access to the facility for handicapped folks, Russ said.

Led by a band of volunteers with a passion for giving back, the Community Clothes Closet in Newberg is becoming an essential stop for many in need. The small shop sells clothing for people of all ages at a modest price and is glad to serve anyone who walks through their doors in the basement of First United Methodist Church on Deborah Road.

"Our goal is to help the needy in town," volunteer Sharon Robertson said. "Anybody who has a need for clothes can come to us and get whatever they need. Every item costs $1 and that is a donation that goes to local organizations that need it."

Proceeds from the sale of the clothes go to local school-related programs, food pantries, Love INC and other charitable organizations. Everyone who works at and helps out with the closet does so on a volunteer basis and many have deep roots in Newberg and the surrounding area.

The closet started in 1997 in Portland under the leadership of Debbie Russ. It began just selling clothes for kids, but it expanded to patrons of all ages and moved to Dundee a few years later. At the start of 2020, the closet relocated to Newberg as it needed more space.

"We're all volunteers that just love giving back to the community," Robertson said. "Most of us have lived here for a long time and I've been here for decades. I've seen lots of changes and I am seeing an increasing need for people to come together and help one another – if we don't pull together this world won't be able to survive.

"We had several options to move our location and we chose the one that was the best for what we're trying to do. We are in First United Methodist on Deborah Road in the sunlight basement."

The basement locale in the church is accessible to those with physical disabilities – something the closet's previous location in Dundee didn't have. Many of the folks who come through the closet are low-income, veterans or those with tenuous living situations. Robertson said the prices are set low, but if someone doesn't have the money volunteers are glad to give them the items anyway.

Support received from local organizations and individuals has kept the closet going, Robertson said, and shows how much the people in Newberg care about one another.

"People in this community got so behind us and went out to buy racks and other equipment for us," she said. "It's been an overwhelming, positive response from people who want to keep up this resource for people who need it."

Hours for the clothes closet are from 12 to 3 p.m. on Sundays. The clothing options available to the community are constantly expanding and volunteers encourage those who are able to donate clothes to the cause.

There has been no shortage of support for the closet since its opening and especially since its move to Newberg, Robertson said. She hopes everyone who has clothing needs will stop by and see what they have to offer, and those with an excess of clothes will donate.

"We have met a lot of wonderful people in this town, new and old," Robertson said. "I've been a hairdresser in Newberg for more than 50 years, so I meet a lot of people and it's amazing to meet new folks in town. Having been raised here since the age of 8, you used to be able to go to the grocery store and see everyone you know.

"Now with the way this community has grown, there's a greater need for this."

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