A dressing room. A sitting area. Racks of clothes organized by size.
When Eva Slagle and her husband, Mike, opened Clothed In Righteousness, she planned for it to have many of the same elements as a boutique.
“I grew up as a poor child. My parents received assistance, my clothes were always hand-me-downs and my shoes typically had duct tape on them because my parents couldn’t afford new shoes,” Slagle said. “So I wanted it to be someplace where you didn’t feel embarrassed (to be).”
Clothed In Righteousness is an Alliance-based clothing closet and food pantry that provides free goods to people in need from Alliance, Sebring, Salem and other surroundings communities.
Slagle, of Salem, works as a training and downtown partnership coordinator for the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center. Slagle and her husband created Clothed In Righteousness about eight years ago, she said.
“It didn’t have a name (at first). We were part of a grassroots effort when Anchor House originally started serving the homeless over in Canton,” Slagle said.
Slagle said Clothed In Righteousness participated in an outreach effort led by Anchor House on Christmas Eve every year, where they handed out socks, underwear and hygiene products to the homeless.
Clothed In Righteousness continued to give out items to the homeless in the Canton area for several years. Over time, the goods they provided evolved from socks to other clothing items.
“I envisioned having a clothing closet,” Slagle said. “And that’s kind of what it snowballed into.”
In July, the Slagles worked with friends Darlene and Mike Grimm to open a store for Clothed In Righteousness in downtown Alliance, located on East Main Street.
The Grimms are co-pastors of The Way Bible Church, which they started at the same time as the clothing closet.
“One side is the church, and the other side is Clothed In Righteousness. We work in connection with each other,” Darlene Grimm said.
Clothed In Righteousness provides a variety of items to those in need in the area, including socks, shoes, clothes, blankets, hygiene and cleaning products and food.
“We give them quality items. They come in, they can shop and feel like they’re getting what they need for their specific needs,” Grimm said.
When they opened the Clothed In Righteousness storefront, Slagle said she didn’t fully grasp the need for this type of assistance in the community.
“I didn’t realize the magnitude of poverty that there is in Alliance,” she said. “I also didn’t realize the amount of homeless we have until we got downtown. It was before we even opened up that we had people stopping in and needing stuff.”
Clothed In Righteousness started providing warm meals for the homeless in the area in December. The effort quickly grew to encompass families who weren’t homeless but were still in need of food assistance.
Slagle explained that many pantries require people to bring a form of ID with proof of their current address in order to receive food.
“We had a few families who were displaced who didn’t have a current address at the time,” she said.
Slagle said the need for groceries fluctuates throughout the month, but they have noticed a larger need for groceries than they initially expected. She estimated they serve an average of 40 families each weekend.
Slagle said Clothed In Righteousness needs donations of non-perishable food items, socks, hygiene products, laundry soap, men’s and boys’ clothing and baby girls’ clothing.
“If someone out there has a need, if they’re unemployed right now (or) maybe their income falls above the guidelines for assistance, they can reach out to us,” Slagle said. “We don’t want to say ‘no’ just because of their income or their situation. We want to make sure they’re taken care of.”
Clothed In Righteousness is open weekday evenings by appointment and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment.
Anyone interested in donating or receiving assistance from Clothed In Righteousness can contact Slagle through Facebook or at (330) 501-8262.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Alliance clothing closet provides clothes, groceries to needy