Men, women and children who visit Gulf Cove United Methodist Church’s Closet of Hope can show their I.D., puff out a trash bag and fill it with 30 items of clothing free of charge.

Residents can find anything from a swim suit to a bra, and even a tuxedo.

The Closet opened in 2009, started by a former church director who’s kids in her youth group wanted to do something for the kids that couldn’t afford to have as nice of clothes, said the Closet’s current director, Sandy Palmer.

“It wasn’t just children, it was adults that were coming too,” she said. “We would get people who came in that had been out of work for some time and going back into the work field.”

Palmer has been with the Closet for nine years. “There’s never enough men’s and boy’s clothes,” she said.

Volunteers sort through donated clothes before hanging them on the racks of the Closet. “We make sure they’re not overly soiled or ripped up,” she said. “But nothing goes to waste.”

If clothes don’t match that scorching Florida climate, volunteers donate the clothes to Red Cross bins across town. And if the clothes are worse for wear? Those go to the CARE Organization, which gets so much that a pound of clothing goes back into the organization, Palmer said.

The Closet of Hope takes place the first and third Saturdays of each month from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The next one is on Jan. 19 at Gulf Cove United Methodist Church at 1100 McCall Rd., Room 204 in Port Charlotte. The Closet is open to all Charlotte County and southern Sarasota County residents. There are no economic qualifications, but Palmer asks for families to come only once a month.


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