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Rowan Helping Ministries preparing to reopen clothing assistance as temperatures drop

SALISBURY — The weather is getting colder and the need for warm clothing is already here. As a result, Rowan Helping Ministries is trying to open the doors of its clothing center before people need it most.

The program has been shut down for most of the year due to the pandemic. Rowan Helping Ministries Executive Director Kyna Grubb cited concerns about the tight space for the clothing area and the nonprofit’s general volunteer shortage.

Grubb said the organization is short on volunteers because many are retirees who fall into the high-risk category for COVID-19 who were sent by the AARP.

The program stopped accepting donations as well, but people are already taking an interest in the program restarting. Director of Community Relations Betsy Warner said she had several people reach out wanting to donate clothes last week, and there are coat drives being organized to support it as well.

Last winter, Rowan Helping Ministries gave out 27,000 pieces of clothing to people in need. In a typical year, it would serve about 2,000 households with the center.

Grubb said Rowan Helping Ministries is working out procedures to get the program reopened, including volunteers shopping for clients. Grubb said the goal is to reopen the center in December, before it gets too cold.

“I don’t know what date that is yet, because we’re leaning into our volunteers to help us get there,” Grubb said.

Volunteer Leigh Ann Loblein has been organizing the space from storage and extra office space to one that would be conducive to clients coming to get clothes. Everything has been grouped so it will be easier for people to shop.

“I know that people throughout COVID have been cleaning out their homes,” Loblein said. “I’ve found in my business too, people love to give things and donate things to where it is going to be used.”

RHM has still served a handful of people with supplemental clothing. Grubb said the nonprofit has made a point of still reaching the most vulnerable people in the community like those experiencing homelessness.

The clothing center does not just help keep people warm, either. In the past, Grubb said, the center has helped people get the clothes they need to go in to a job interview, for example.

Warner said Rowan Helping Ministries is volunteer-driven and, while it seems like donations will not be an issue, volunteers could be more of an issue, adding it is hard to foresee how the pandemic will impact daily operations at the ministry.

“Our greatest concern is having enough volunteers,” Warner said.

Anyone interested in volunteering with RHM can sign up at www.rowanhelpingministries.org

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