Stacks of pants and rows of shirts fill a small room in the basement of United Communities of Southeast Philadelphia. Shoes of all colors are aligned perfectly along the wall. More clothes are tucked away in boxes under the shelves.
In 2009, Kamar Johnson and Jearlean Jones started a clothing bin at United Communities to assist local residents with free articles of clothing during tough economic times. After growing increasingly popular among both residents and donors, the former clothing bin has now become a full-fledged clothing bank.
“It’s all about making a difference in people’s lives,” said Kamar Johnson, the chairman of the United Communities Neighborhood Advisory Committee.
Residents are welcome to come to the clothing bank, located at 2029 S. Eighth St., once a month and choose from a wide selection of new and gently used clothing, ranging from casual wear to business attire. They are permitted to pick out seven articles of clothing, yet Johnson added that he often allows people to take more.
“When people get new clothes, it makes them feel better as human beings,” Johnson said. “This in turn encourages them to do better in life.”
Johnson recalled one woman in particular who managed to escape an abusive relationship and used to frequent the clothing bank.
“One day, she showed up with just the clothes on her back and we gave her outfits,” he said. “Now she is in school and getting her life together.”
For Jearlean Jones, a member of the advisory committee, the most rewarding part of running the clothing bank is being able to see the happiness on people’s faces.
“Just today, after I helped a man pick out clothes, he told me he loved me and that he would definitely be back next month,” she said with a huge smile.
Eve Wilkson, a South Philadelphia resident and new mother, said that the clothing bank truly helped her and she plans on returning as well.
“It’s getting really warm out, so I just picked up some new baby clothes, which would normally cost a lot,” she added. “I’m so thankful for this place.”
The clothing bank is open to the public Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.