The Salvation Army of Lea County held its Clothing Closet grand opening Monday with Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb supporting the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Clothing Closet is located next door to the Salvation Army offices and chapel, 818 S. Fowler St.
Family Services Coordinator Stella Torres pointed out a gap in services occurred when the local Salvation Army corps was forced to close its thrift store earlier this year.
“We’re trying to meet the needs of the community because they need clothing. With the thrift store down, we can’t provide any of that. So, we got clothing donations and we opened up a small clothing closet,” Torres said in an interview with the News-Sun. “They can come in, fill out their application for assistance and we can give them some free clothes, pants, shoes, shirts, whatever we have from donations.”
“We knew that service would be missed, so we told people to bring their clothes,” said Corps officer Maj. Lisa Smith on Monday. “This building was not being used, mostly storage. … This is a clothing closet. No store. No money. Everything is for our clients who are in need. We have clothing and, also, some household goods like dishes, pots and pans, sheets, towels, things people who are, maybe, starting over need.”
Smith credited Torres for leading the charge to establish the clothing closet, along with the help of Mariposa Johnson.
“I’m here on behalf of the community and the commission,” Cobb addressed the small crowd at the ribbon cutting. “The Salvation Army is an organization that so much of what they do is for individuals. There’s very little cost that goes to the people that are part of
the organization. Everything they do is for the benefit of the public. We’re glad to have them in our community. We appreciate the organization and all the people that are here today. We wish them the best as they open this new clothing closet.”
Torres told the News-Sun, “We want to make sure the people know the clothes are free. We’re not charging like we did at the store, so any donations we can get, we’re grateful for. This way, our clients don’t have to worry about having to pay for a jacket or pair of pants.”
Smith explained earlier this summer the thrift store had lost money, forcing its closure even though its purpose was to fund family services.
“We did everything we could think of to do to keep it open and then did more,” Smith said. “But the store is supposed to fund the family services we provide and it wasn’t doing that. We sustained a big loss previously and we never recovered.”
Lt. K.D. Hall, the assistant corps officer, told the News-Sun those family services continue.
“Unfortunately, our funds are totally depleted because we have helped people quite a bit,” she said.
Hall noted various forms of services, including counseling and help with funding living expenses, as well as providing food, clothing and hygiene supplies.
“There’s always one of us available for counseling or just offering an ear to listen, either myself or Maj. Smith,” Hall said. “We may not be in the building, but Stella knows how to get hold of us.”
Torres added, “A lot of the homeless people like to come over here and sit.” The chapel is available every day from Monday through Friday, as well as the Sunday services.
“Eventually, we would like to use our thrift shop building as a homeless shelter,” Hall said. “That is the ongoing goal, so we could keep using what God has given us so we could be good stewards of what we have.” Currently, she said, Hobbs has no official homeless shelter.
Continued donations of all kinds are appreciated, as well as volunteer time.
“We’re here just to serve the people,” Torres said. “If you’re down on your luck or whatever, we have free food. We have free clothing. You can come and pray at the chapel anytime during the day.”
Donations of hygiene supplies, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and adult incontinence supplies, would be appreciated as well, Torres said.
“I know there are a lot of people who can’t afford deodorant, shampoo or conditioner because they pay their bills and don’t have anything left,” Torres said.
Hall interjected, “We would call those clients the working poor. They might be working and they might have a house and a roof over their heads, but they don’t have anything to provide sustenance or cleanliness.
“I’ve been with the Salvation Army for about 20 years and this is the first place I’ve been that people live in houses with no electricity and no water. There are quite a few of those,” Hall said. “I’ve experienced people who couldn’t pay their electricity bill, so it got turned off, but in a couple of days it was turned back on. Here, that’s how people live. It’s pretty surprising to me the number of people that live that way.”
Torres said monetary donations that come to the Salvation Army of Lea County mostly stay with the local corps.
“That’s what I like about the Salvation Army,” she concluded.
Hall expanded on the family services philosophy.
“We recently, in the last month, started a youth program to reach out to under-served kids in the community, from 3 years old all the way up to 18,” she said. “Then, we also have our adult bible study, a women’s ministry and a younger women’s ministry. So, we’re pretty busy here.”
Smith told Cobb on Monday, “We’re happy to help people. We really appreciate the community donating. We can always use donations of clothes, especially baby clothes, diapers, fire resistant clothes, work boots, so we can help our people help themselves.
“Each client can get three outfits when they come. They can come every 90 days if they need it. This is especially good for our families. As fast as kids grow, and needing clothes for school, we just ask that the clothes being donated are not dirty or torn or stained. They have to be gently used,” Smith said.
Responding to Cobb’s question regarding how the public can donate, Smith said, “They just call us at our office number which is 575-397-2119.”