When Alicia Wood and other members of the Calvary United Methodist Church in Mattydale sat down and looked at the demographics of the community, they were surprised to see how many young families lived in the area.
“I thought it was an elderly community, but it’s not.,” Wood said. “There are a lot of ground-level families just starting out.”
Wood said many of those families are fighting to make ends meet.
“We feel like in Mattydale, we have a lot of working families that are still struggling,” she said. “Sometimes clothes or winter boots or winter coats are the last thing you can afford.”
6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays
Located in the lower level of Calvary United Methodist Church, 201 East Molloy Road, Mattydale
Parking and entrance are on Mitchell Road
That’s how Wood came up with the idea of Easter Morning, the clothing closet located in the basement of the church at the corner of Molloy and Mitchell roads in Mattydale. The organization offers clothes for infants, kids, teens, women and men, all free of charge, to anyone in the community.
The project came to be over the summer, when Wood and other members of the church started thinking of ways to help the community.
“This seemed to be the most doable and tangible, so we went with it,” she said.
Wood said other area churches had food pantries, and Calvary wanted to do something different to address a different need.
“St. Margaret’s has a food pantry,” she said. “We’re kind of touching base with them. We want to let them know we’re here. We’ve talked to them once, but we just want to remind them. And we actually have a food pantry basket there, and we’ll take donations to St. Margaret’s. Unless someone comes in and needs food for that night, of course, we’ll give them that. But we felt like the food was taken care of with St. Margaret’s.”
Once the seed was planted in people’s brains, it grew quickly.
“We started talking about [the clothing closet] in church,” Wood said. “We started talking about it with our friends and family. And donations started coming in. People really love donating clothes. We will start giving out receipts so that they can take it for their income taxes. Luckily, the church really supported it. On our flier, we said ‘Volunteers needed.’ The response has been just outstanding. We have 12 or 15 people that are working in the store.”
There are no income qualifications that must be met or forms that must be filled out. People can simply come in and take what they need.
“We are limiting people to a big brown paper grocery bag,” Wood said. “If someone came in and said, ‘I have five kids at home,’ of course, we’re going to make an exception. But we don’t want all of it to be gone in one day.”
The center relies on donations; it took the church six months to gather enough donations to open Easter Morning, and Calvary continues to gather donations so that the closet can remain open. Right now, Wood said the biggest need is in children’s clothes, though she’s also looking for men’s clothes, winter coats and boots.
“That’s where the need is in the community right now,” she said. “We really would like more donations. If someone doesn’t have clothes, we’d take a monetary donation and hit an awesome sale and get some really good clothes.”
Though clothes are the main focus at Easter Morning, that’s not all it has to offer. Families can also pick up free books and DVDs donated by the Salina Free Library, as well as toys dropped off by members of the church and the community at large.
Wood said Easter Morning is still in its early stages.
“This is just getting off the ground,” she said. “This is just a start, because we really want to start doing other things along with it. In the future, we’d really like to start having classes on healthy, inexpensive eating. My daughter goes to the school district here, and in eighth grade there’s a calculator that’s required for algebra, and it costs $129. Now in geometry, there’s a new calculator that’s also required that costs $150. Honestly, we would really like to have scholarships for that also.”
Wood said the church and the workers at the store want to know what else they can do to help the community.
“We had to start somewhere, and this is where we started,” Wood said. “That was the main reason we did this. We felt like people who work hard in our community still are struggling, and this is one way we can help.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.