The AMEN House is having to make some changes coming at the end of the month. After a clothing program has been a part of the AMEN House for 30 years the charity is having to shift gears and close the clothing program at the end of September, Michele Carlisle, AMEN House executive director said.
In March, the House, had to stop taking clothing donations due to the pandemic.
Teri Budde, clothing team lead, said that before the pandemic, an average of 30 clients came in looking for clothes every day.
“We did nearly 70,000 pieces of clothing last year and barely anything this year,” Budde said. “If somebody says, ‘I need a pair of shoes, I need this,’ then we try to shop for them, but, you know, it’s just very piecemeal.”
Though the program is closing at the AMEN House, Carlisle and Budde recognize the need is still out there.
“It wasn’t a decision that we took lightly,” Carlisle said. “We understand that the need is not gone. But, our absolute mission is ending hunger here in Scott County.”
The square footage that is being taken up by the clothes is needed for food, she said.
Solutions to try and still maintain the clothing program have been on the mind of those at the AMEN House since March, Carlisle said.
Budde and Carlisle are open to working with others in the community to try and find a way to keep the program around, but right now, the focus has to be keeping up with the demand for food, they said.
“We just work in a very limited space,” Carlisle said. “And that, I know it’s only probably a few hundred square feet, but those square feet are critical to us being able to continue on with the mission of ending hunger.”
During the pandemic, Carlisle and her volunteers have seen an increase in clients who stop by for food, she said.
“In September, we’re on target to meet, like, literally, 1,000 sack lunches,” Carlisle said. “So, 1,000 bags full of lunch — a sandwich, a granola bar, a bottle of water, some fruit — are gonna leave here in September.”
Around 200 to 300 supplemental food boxes go out to families right now, she said. The county emergency food line helped create that box.
“So many of the phone calls weren’t, ‘oh my goodness, I don’t know how to use the AMEN House,’” She said. “It was, ‘I’ve already been to the AMEN House and still the cabinets are empty.’”
September 26 between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. will be the final clothing giveaway for the AMEN House. The giveaway will be in the parking lot with social distancing and masks being observed, Carlisle said.
James Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.