Ontario Communities Support CRC Clothing Ministry

A volunteer at New Life CRC’s Clothing Closet ministry holds up a hand-knitted pair of mittens that were part of a large donation last fall.

The Clothing Closet, a community ministry of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Guelph, Ont., got a boost in donated goods this fall thanks to two community efforts. 

Ministry coordinator Lisa Burke said that Jim Estill, a local philanthropist and businessman, heard about the Clothing Closet and asked how he might help. The ministry offers free, quality clothing to people who need it. Clothing Closet staff told Estill they could really use winter accessories: warm hats, mittens, scarves, and socks. Supply at the Clothing Closet for these items was so low, Burke was concerned they might run out.

Estill secured a donation of nearly 200 skeins of yarn from Spinrite in Listowel, Ont., then put a challenge to the community, offering the yarn at his company, Danby Appliances in Guelph, to make mittens and gloves for the ministry. Community knitters responded with over 300 items—sets of mittens, gloves, scarves, hats, and socks. “We have these full bins of all of these things, and we will not run out of mittens this year,” said Burke.

While the yarn campaign was running, a teacher in Fergus, Ont., reached out to Estill’s company to ask for suggestions of ways her seventh-grade class might help in the community. The class collected over 20 garbage bags full of coats and warm clothing for the Clothing Closet. “The donation we had from the school was the single largest donation I think we’ve ever had here,” said Burke. “It was phenomenal; the kids did an amazing job.” 

The donations, and the way they were gathered, was meaningful to New Life CRC, which prioritizes community connection. “So much of what we do here is about knowing people. … With all the loneliness these days, that’s really an important thing,” said Burke.