Clothing depot closes in Middletown after more than 50 years

Credit: Rick McC

Credit: Rick McC

A clothing depot that has served the Middletown community for more than 50 years has closed.

Leah Viel, recording secretary for Church Women United, which operated the Clothing Depot, called the decision to shut down operations “very sad. It hurts.”

She said the organization rented space in the basement of Episcopal Church of the Ascension, and when the church closed until at least April 2021 due to the coronavirus, major construction and mold issues, the depot shut down.

“It was God’s way of saying, ‘It’s OK to close,‘” Viel said. “That way we knew it was time.”

Located in the rear of the Church of the Ascension, the Clothing Depot has been in operation for more than 50 years. It began in the former Doty House in 1969, providing clothing for school-age children throughout Middletown and surrounding communities.

At the time, Viel said, the goal was to provide children with three school outfits they “wouldn’t be ashamed of.” Then, she said, the women realized there was a greater need for clothing for working adults.

The group also offered clean, working items such as lamps, dishes, books, bedding, and toys that mostly were donated from garage sales, she said. On average, 100 families and 300 people, were served per month, receiving 1,700 articles. The depot was open four days a week.

Viel remembers one day when a man who was attending a wedding said he had a suit, shirt, tie and shoes. But he needed one pair of black socks. The volunteers searched the vast inventory and located one pair of black socks.

Another time, she said, a boy with mental disabilities came into the depot and he was given a jacket.

“He was overwhelmed,” Viel said.

When he was about to leave, he tried to give the jacket back.

“It’s yours to keep,” he was told.

“We were always blessed,” said Viel, who added most of the Church Women United members are olderand dealing with health issues.

Viel said the church, located at 2709 McGee Ave., is going through a major remodeling and dealing with mold issues. She said all of the Clothing Depot items are stored in the church and she’s unsure what condition they may be in next year. She said the organization wouldn’t feel comfortable giving away the items next year.

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