A Sanctuary In Time Of Need
302-652-8278 • fax: 302-652-8641
This vital ministry has continued to grow as a resource for the community, as an employment opportunity, and as a vehicle through which a large coalition of community organizations can collaborate in service. A core ministry of Friendship House, the Clothing Bank of Delaware has three primary missions. Firstly, it serves as a clearing house for the collection and distribution of donated clothing and a delivery service to those community agencies in direct contact with individuals and families in need. Secondly, it provides entry level employment and training to women re-entering the work force. Thirdly, it creates volunteer opportunities for churches, businesses and community organizations.
The traditional means of freely distributing clothing to the poor in this country has been the church clothing closet. Unfortunately, this ministry faces several logistical problems that makes many churches reluctant to enter the field. The first is that people tend to donate clothing out of season, i.e. their summer clothes at the beginning of winter and their winter clothing at the beginning of summer. Most clothing closets do not have adequate space to store such seasonal clothing until it is needed. The second difficulty is one of recycling unusable clothing. Donated clothing can be divided into three general categories: domestic quality (usable, in-style clothing desired by needy Americans), foreign quality (usable clothing in great demand overseas) and rag quality (damaged or unusable clothing capable of being converted to rag or paper). Most clothing closets can only use domestic quality clothing. The rest must be disposed of, often at the clothing closet’s expense. A central warehouse like the Clothing Bank has the space to store out-of-season, domestic quality clothing until it is needed and the volume to recycle foreign and rag quality clothing through sales to for-profit rag merchants or through shipments to the foreign missions.
Most entry-level labor intensive employment is controlled by temporary employment agencies who have little desire to see their workers graduate to more permanent, better paying jobs. A very high percentage of such day labor jobs go to homeless street men. Jobs for women with limited job skills and a scattered work history are not in great demand. While Welfare Reform offers a solid, one shot opportunity for job training and placement, the bottom line is that there is an ever-growing number of poor women in New Castle County who no longer qualify for such public-sponsored programs. While faith-based ministries like Friendship House are committed to filling the gap with privately-funded recovery programs, there is a dire need for employment partners who will provide such program participants with entry level jobs. The Clothing Bank is able to provide not only entry-level jobs to women as sorters, but also more advanced job training in customer service, warehouse management and marketing.
While organizations like Friendship House and the Sunday Breakfast Mission already enjoy a high level of volunteer participation in their ministries, there remains a high demand for entry-level volunteer opportunities. Most successful starter volunteer projects tend to be:
Such projects give volunteers the opportunity to try out the waters without making a life-time commitment. They understand that most folks would like a chance to wade around in the shallow end of the human-service pool before diving into the deep end. As with our homeless clients, Friendship House believes in accepting our volunteers where they are and not demanding of them more than they are ready to do. The Clothing Bank offers multiple entry level volunteer projects in the form of collection drives at work or church, sorting clothes at the warehouse and delivery runs to various local distribution sites.
Rosalba Grant, Manager
Karen Johnson, Manager
1603 Jessup St. Suite 3
Wilmington, DE 19802
Located in the Gateway Industrial Center
On The Corner of Jessup and Vandever Ave.
Hours: 7:00 AM -- 3:00 PM (Monday Thru Thursday)