26 Feb Barb’s Clothes Closet Story
My name is Barbara Herbsleb. My husband Bob and I have been married 56 years. We have four children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren. We became members of GSLC in October 1968. In those early years I taught Sunday school, washed communion glasses and counted the offering in Lynne Kroger’s office. Bob ushered. Bob & I volunteered with the Road Home for the many years, making families feel at home when they had no homes. When GSLC opened the Food Pantry in 2005, Bob & I became the sole shoppers of groceries at Second Harvest, loading them in our truck, returning to Good Shepherd to put them away on the shelves.
In the Spring of 2009 I was asked to be on a task force to see what our church could do to help our neighbors around the church. The surrounding rental residences were showing signs of decay with violence and vandalism, etc. We met several times over the summer and came up with some ways that we hoped would help. We could only pick one of our pet projects and I felt that we needed a Clothes Closet. I was told it might take awhile to get it going, but I knew there was a need. I had been picking up baby clothes and friends had been giving me children’s clothes to take to the Food Pantry. These items went quickly and there were requests for more.
My friend and I visited the Community Clothes Closet at Mt Horeb where we talked with the women that ran it. We picked up ideas to bring back to our church. In June of 2010 three of us, Pastor Brent and Pastor Sheryl started having meetings and asking for new or gently used clothing. We decided to buy new shoes, socks & briefs for the children. The Good Shepherd Foundation gave us a $2,500.00 grant to help with expenses, which was greatly appreciated.
We opened the morning of Sept 16, 2010 in one of the annex rooms next to Peterson Hall, serving 64 children. We served 722 children that year and learned a lot from our mistakes.
During 2011 we moved into two more rooms and served 2,735 children. We receive clothing donations and monetary donations from church members and groups. I shop for shoes, sock, undies and clothing when needed with a budget. My husband has designed the registration sheets, vouchers, inventory sheets and keeps track of the purchases and expenses. I am the Clothes Closet coordinator along with 25 to 30 volunteers. We are open every Thursday, 9:30 to 12 noon and 5 to 7 PM.
This ministry has proven to be very instrumental in our community and a much utilized service for our neighbors in need. We serve zip codes 53711 and 53719. The year 2012 saw us serving 3,232 children and to the present we have served 19,608 children. We stock boys and girls clothing from infant to size 16-18 and eligibility is through their 18th year. During winter we provide winter jackets, hats, mittens, scarfs and boots.
Thanks to a Boy Scout who was earning his Eagle Scout rank, he & helpers built a shed to store out of season clothing, giving us more room in the Clothes Closet.
We have helped families, homeless and abused mothers who have lost everything. It makes me feel I’m serving my Lord by helping those in need. I would like to be able to serve all the children that have needs in our neighborhood and have a little more room to grow.
I leave you with this from Matthew 25: 35-36 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.”