Collaborative effort leads to free community closet in Eudora

photo by: Submitted photo

Community and student volunteers help at a Feb. 2, 2019, workday to prepare a room in the Eudora school district's West Resource Center for use as a community clothes closet. The closet opened Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019 and offers free new and gently used clothing to Eudora students and families.

Thanks to the efforts of schools, churches and a business, Eudora now has a place for students and families to get new and gently used clothes free of charge.

The new clothing closet, known as the Bird’s Nest, opened Tuesday in the Eudora school district’s West Resource Center, 1310 Winchester Road, said Susan Tinich, principal of Eudora Elementary School. It’s now open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, offering free new and gently used clothing to students and families in the community. Organizers will add evening hours on either Tuesday or Wednesday when it is decided which day works best for the community, Tinich said.

No ID is required to visit the closet, according to the district’s website. Donations can now be dropped off at Eudora schools, according to the site, and some churches are also taking donations.

Tinich, who began working for the Eudora school district last year, said she had previously helped open a free community closet in a Missouri school district and wanted to duplicate that effort in Eudora.

“This wasn’t my first time doing this,” Tinich said. “I knew what had to be done.”

Tinich started out by reaching out to local churches. She approached Jeremiah Holcomb, pastor of Eudora Refuge Christian Church, about pitching the idea to the community’s other churches. Six of the city’s churches agreed to help with the effort, she said.

“I first took the idea to the churches in late October or November,” she said. “It came together very well.”

Another big step in getting the Bird’s Nest opened was tapping into the volunteer manpower available in Eudora’s schools, Tinich said. Twenty-five student and community volunteers turned out on a Feb. 2 workday to prepare the Bird’s Nest for its opening, Tinich said. Volunteers from the churches now run the boutique on the two days it is open.

Students have helped with the effort in several ways, said Michelle Plegge, counselor at Eudora Middle School. Special education students in life skills classes help wash and fold clothes, while members of Eudora High School’s Future Business Leaders of America, Honor Society and Art Club helped clean and set up the Bird’s Nest, she said. The Art Club members will also be painting a mural in the boutique.

The Bird’s Nest doesn’t look like the typical clothes closet, thanks to the expertise of Elizabeth Knispel, owner of Twill Boutique in downtown Eudora, Plegge said.

“She worked on the presentation and design so that it looks like a boutique,” Plegge said.

Plegge said Tinich’s leadership helped establish a much-needed service in the Eudora community.

“It’s been a need in our community for some time,” she said. “In the past, we have been able to provide vouchers for families, but this takes it to a different level. Susan really stepped up and took charge and did a great thing for the community.”


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