Throughout the week, Calvary Memorial Church, at 931 Lake in Oak Park, is collecting clothing. On Saturday mornings, its Emergency Clothing Closet is taking requests for items. When the church started this program in mid-October, it helped 41 people. Now, more than 70 people are coming to the closet every Saturday.

Calvary took on this project after First United Church of Oak Park, at 848 Lake, which houses the Walk-In Ministry, ran out of space for such a service, according to Amy Baker, deaconess of Women’s Ministries at Cavalry, who is credited with bringing the clothing program to the church.

“We wanted to unify our church and also engage in the community,” Baker said. “Walk-In Ministry was the connection.” Emergency Clothing Closet was “a hand-in-the-glove type of fit,” Baker said.

“With the cold weather, the need for coats, hats and gloves becomes more pressing,” said Donna Baer, who also is works with Calvary’s Women’s Ministries. “We’re looking for more used clothing donations.”

The system is organized to be efficient and generous. Numbered tickets are handed out to people in need upon arrival. When they’re called on, they go to a table set-up of volunteers who conduct an intake interview, Baer said.

To be sure the program helps out as many as possible, a person is allowed five articles of clothing every three months.

Once preferences are listed, that list is handed to a designated “shopper,” Baer said, referring to volunteers who go to the clothing storage area in the church basement and grab a few items to show.

Nellie Schultz, a Calvary member, has volunteered with the clothing closet since the Saturday it opened. More volunteers are needed, she says, because the program is making a difference. For Schultz, there are telling moments when serving people in need:

“The look they get when they know they’ll have new boots.”

How to help

Collection bins are in the portico of Calvary Memorial Church, which you can get to from the west parking lot of 931 Lake St. in Oak Park. Clothing donations are accepted:

  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday
  • 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday,Wednesday
  • 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sunday

Immediate need:

  • Winter coats
  • Jackets
  • Snow boots
  • Gloves
  • Long underwear
  • Men’s pants in size XL
  • New underwear for men and women
  • Anything in size XXL and larger

In need of clothing?

Get to Calvary Memorial Church, 931 Lake in Oak Park, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday and present a photo ID to show residency. The Closet can serve people in the following ZIP codes: 60104, 60130, 60131, 60141, 60153, 60154, 60155, 60160, 60161, 60161, 60162, 60163, 60164, 60165, 60171, 60176, 60301, 60302, 60304, 60305, 60402, 60513, 60526, 60534, 60638, 60546, 60644, 60651, 60707.

If you don’t have a photo ID, go to First United Church of Oak Park’s Walk-In Ministry, at 848 Lake.

Join the discussion on social media!