Evy’s Closet to reopen May 6

NILES – Clothing racks are full of blouses, pants, T-shirts, dresses, coats and everything in between at Evy’s Closet after missing its community “shoppers” for a year.

Weathering the pandemic mandates of being closed and appointment-only, Brenda Engel is excited to reopen Evy’s Closet on May 6, located inside New Journey United Methodist Church, 302 Cedar St., Niles, to women in need of a new outfit or coat.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Evy’s Closet was appointment-only. Now, Engel is ready to welcome clients back into the space from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday evenings to get much-needed items for their day-to-day lives. The shop provides free clothing to women in need.

For women in need of clothing items, the east parking lot entrance to the shop will be opening once again to welcome them inside. The items on the racks are free to anyone visiting Evy’s Closet.

“At present time, we are allowing people to take three bags [of clothes],” Engel said. “The shopping bags are from local grocery stores. They can have whatever they can fit into three bags, not including coats. They don’t have to try to fit a coat in a bag.”

Engel has seen how meaningful having clothes to wear for multiple occasions as someone gets back on their feet can be.

“We’ve had shoppers, ladies who are either in halfway houses when they’re coming out of being incarcerated and returning to the community again, and ladies from abused women shelters,” Engel said. “They come in, and usually, these people have nothing.”

She said in some circumstances, she has allowed those in the most need to take the clothing they need to get a job, to go grocery shopping, or even just to have an outfit they feel good in.

In the past, when Evy’s Closet had accessories, Engel remembered one woman who would bring her daughter in with her.

“We didn’t have any clothes to fit the daughter, but she liked the jewelry,” Engel said. “She used to rearrange or match the jewelry sets up for me.”

Those moments and connections are what have kept Engel’s passion for Evy’s Closet going.

More recently, Engel said the shop does not accept shoes, belts, purses or jewelry because there is simply no place to store or display them for shoppers. For now, there have been so many donations of used clothing that she needs community members in need to come pick out a few outfits.

In its fifth year of operation, Evy’s Closet is a community initiative Engel founded in memory of her mother, Evelyn Bolton.

“She was involved with Niles High School costuming and the music department,” Engel said. “She was always doing costuming.”

Evy’s Closet still has coats and warmer clothes on its racks at the moment, with temperatures still dipping lower overnight and throughout the weeks. As the weather becomes consistently warmer, Engel said she will change out the offerings to spring and summery clothing once again.

Masks are required for entry to Evy’s Closet.

Donations are generally accepted by community members from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday, but Engel said right now her goal is to get the clothes the closet does have into the hands of those who need them. The shop specializes in women’s sizes 14 and up.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” Engel said. “We need the shoppers to come and go through the inventory so we can accept more donations.”

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