214 South 5th Street in downtown Gadsden is no longer vacant.
Last Monday, the Klothes Kloset underwent a final tune-up prior to the store’s official opening on Tuesday (March 13).
Klothes Kloset offers free clothes and children’s toys to those in need. The store relies upon donations from area churches, businesses and individuals.
According to Breakaway Ministries executive director Eddie Nichols, the Klothes Kloset partly came about due to the closure of the Love Center and the Way of the Cross’ decision to cease clothes collection.
“Other than the what Methodist Church does one or two Wednesdays a month, we’re pretty much it downtown for being open extended hours on a weekday. The Love Center gave us all of their clothes and their racks, and we’ve got about 500 or 600 boxes of clothes stored across the street that we can’t fit in right now. We’ve been working on getting the store set up since November.”
Klothes Kloset, however, is not a free-for-all. After patrons sign in at the front desk, a store volunteer explains how much a person can receive during his/her visit. Nichols said that there is a limit how many times a person may receive clothes over a specific time period.
“These l2 ladies who volunteer here keep amazing records, so they’ll know who has been in and what they’ve taken,” said Eddie Nichols. “Basically, you can’t come in and leave with a whole rack of clothes.”
Nichols pointed out the advantage of a downtown location.
“A lot of these people don’t have transportation, so they can walk here from Sixth Street or Fourth Street or even from over on the west side near the old Gadsden High School.”
CrossPoint Church donated clothing, while youth from the Gathering Church helped decorate the walls. Nichols added that Gadsden First Baptist allowed he and Justice to store some clothes at the church.
“The next thing we know, we’ve got two tractor trailer trucks full of clothes without a building to put them in,” said Nichols. “We’ve been working on this for almost two years, and God has been opening one door after another. It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re finally ready to open. It’s just been a real community effort to get this thing together.”
Nichols said that after Breakaway Ministries began working with inner city youth two years ago, he discovered how great the need was for a shop like Klothes Kloset.
“ When you hear these kids talking about what they don’t have and what they need, it became a real passion for me to do something about it.”
Enter Klothes Kloset director Carla Justice, who organized volunteers and helped Nichols set us Klothes Korner in a department store-style fashion.
“It’s no coincidence that the Lord just meshed me and Carla together,” said Nichols.
Justice agreed that the timing for the partnership was perfect.
“Eddie called me, and I didn’t know him, but things began to fall into place right away. We thought that maybe we’d be lacking in clothes, and that just showed me that the Lord will continue to bless us more and more. We want to serve people and love on them and let them know that we’re here for them.”
A youth minister at Gadsden First Baptist for from 1979-1996, Nichols developed Breakaway Ministries in 1990 as a means of organizing and conducting youth camping trips. In 1996 he devoted himself full-time to the ministry, which over the past several years has branched out to include concerts, promotions, conferences and conventions.
“I believe that if you meet somebody has a need to be fulfilled, God will give you the open door to reach that person,” he said. “I used to have a tee shirt company, and God didn’t have me sell it, He made me give it away. That was the ace in the hole for me to trust Him that He would provide the resources to do His work.”
Klothes Kloset operating hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 – 11:30 a.m. and from 1 – 4 p.m. For more information, call Carla Justice at 256-328-2702.