COAL CITY – The Coal City Clothes Closet will be closing its doors Oct. 1, according to Cathy Milne, who along with her husband, Gordon, started the free clothing store five years ago.
The Clothes Closet originally operated out of the Coal City United Methodist Church, then moved to a storefront at 595 S. Broadway St. before opening in its current location at 130 Blackstone St. in 2010.
“We’ve outgrown the building,” Milne said. “To be able to continue to grow, we need a bigger building, and we’ve searched and [have] not been able to find one.”
She said she started sending out letters requesting grants last October, but as the letters came in denying her requests, she and Gordon discussed their next step.
“Whatever God leads us to do, we will do,” she said. “This decision has been weighing heavy on our hearts.”
Milne’s vision has always been to create more programs for the community. The closet provides free clothes, shoes, household items and food to those who come to visit their free store, but is involved in much more.
After finding out that some Coal City students were going without food, the Milnes’ created an account that would provide lunch to a student who didn’t have the money to eat.
When she found out the number of students who needed food help, the closet created a backpack program where students were sent home every Friday with a backpack of food to get them through the weekend.
“By the end of this last school year we were sending home 101 bags of food a week to students in kindergarten through fifth grade,” Milne said. “Someone has showed interest in pursuing the backpack program and we hope they will be able to continue it.”
Coal City Community Unit 1 School District Superintendent Kent Bugg said during the regular board meeting Wednesday that services for low-income families are an issue for the district.
“The Coal City Clothes Closet is closing, and we lean heavily on them,” Bugg said to the board. “They provide not just clothes, but also food in their backpack program and lunches for students who can’t afford them.”
Milne said the closet has served thousands of families since opening in 2009.
“We can leave holding our head high,” she said.
The Clothes Closet will no longer take donations, and will be extending hours as it nears the date of closure.
Starting Aug. 18, it will be open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m. The closet will move forward with its back-to-school supplies program this summer.
For information, call 815-370-7817.