Volunteers hope to reopen the Waldoboro Free Clothing Closet at a new location soon, but the current drop-off location, closed since the start of the pandemic, continues to attract unwanted donations and complaints.
The bin behind the municipal building has overflowed and toys, electronics, and furniture that do not fit the mission of the organization are piling up around it.
The Enhancing Waldoboro Facebook page has more than 40 comments regarding the issue. “Our town isn’t this, come on folks,” resident Claire Forbes said in a post.
Clothing Closet volunteer organizer Rhonda Claire Collamore said in a phone interview that in the early days of the pandemic, the volunteers did not feel safe continuing their work and the decision was made to close the closet. The closet had opened in 2017.
Collamore said she posted signs about the closure and locked the bin to keep people from dropping stuff off, but despite those measures, an array of items have been left at the site.
The closet is an all-volunteer effort to help members of the community in need by providing access to free, quality clothing. Most of the volunteers who sort through the donations are older and unable to deal with the bulk of non-clothing donations.
In the past, the volunteers have relied on help from inmate work crews from Two Bridges Regional Jail, or, on occasion, from younger volunteers, to manage the influx of donations and ferry the non-clothing items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
Collamore said Clothing Closet volunteers will meet in early February to make plans for reopening in a space at the Medomak House, home to the Waldoboro Food Pantry. The Medomak House, owned by Ron and Peggy Davis, has been undergoing renovations, and a space has been allocated to the Clothing Closet.
The new space will include a washer and dryer, as well as a sink, and is large enough for the group to accept children’s clothing, which it had not been able to do at the previous location.
Collamore said she hopes to continue the organization’s mission in the spring. Once the volunteers are comfortable that they can operate safely, the new closet will open with COVID-19 precautions in place, including distancing, face masks, and hand-sanitizing. The organizers are still determining the logistics of curbside service vs. appointment shopping.
Until then, there are several options for both donors and those in need. Second Chance Clothing, at the First Baptist Church of Waldoboro, is taking appointments starting Saturday, Feb. 6. According to its Facebook page, donations of clean clothing free of stains and holes can be dropped off during open hours or via a drop box at the church.
The MidCoast Clothesline group on Facebook is another local option where area residents can source and donate clothing.
The Miles Memorial Hospital League’s Miles in Motion Thrift Shop, in Damariscotta, accepts donations of gently used toys, clothing, kitchenware, and furniture. The thrift shop takes donations at its drop-off location, at the corner of Route 1 and Belvedere Road, from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
In addition, there are a number of church-based thrift stores around Lincoln County with drop-off locations for unwanted but still usable items.
With the new space at the Medomak House, the Clothing Closet will no longer need the drop-off bin that is the root of the current issue. They hope to be able to move it to another community that can benefit from a clothing drop-off program.