The Anatomy of a Clothing Bank


In 2006 a charity was founded for the purpose of relieving poverty through the operation of a clothing bank.

The organization then adopted 4 values to guide the operation


Dignity, Compassion, Community & Hope


One of the Founders provided warehouse space.

The challenge to be faced was the lack of models for a clothing bank charity. Nothing was found to use as a guide.



  • Source of Clothing Donations
  • Source of Clients
  • System for the delivery of Benefits
  • How would we promote dignity and hope in our process?
  • Sources of Funding?
  • Did we have clarity of objective
    • Would we limit our efforts to the distribution of clothing?
    • Would we add additional services?

A second founder felt strongly that despite social programs that seek to help the poor, most of them lacked the resource to obtain clothing. Thrift stores were too expensive for the average family living
in poverty.

Factors contributing to poverty or need of assistance. These factors are important when working with the community.

  • Mental illness
  • Addiction
  • Anger management issues
  • Limited education and employment skills
  • Unexpected job loss
  • Disasters: Fire, Flooding, Accident

 Action taken

  • In order to promote dignity and hope, we decided to provide
    opportunities to let people with limited resources pay their own way by offering a low cost assortment of clothing to purchase.
  • This is in addition to free clothing programs
  • Provide a job experience program to increase hope and confidence among recipients while utilizing the organizational needs for help and support.


Fast forward to today:



We currently operate a clothing bank through a retail storefront (The Clothing Center) open to the public. All donations are dropped off at the clothing center, relying totally on community involvement. We
offer no pick-up service at this time.

Mixing Free clothing with retail, we encourage clients in need of free clothing to shop throughout the clothing center and present their
Certificates at the till when they are finished shopping. Certificates have no cash value, but describe, the number of pants tops, shoes etc. All goods have a posted pricing model that is a fraction of thrift store pricing and clients are free to pay for anything beyond the
Certificate value.



By welcoming the public to shop and purchase at the low prices, they can see what is being done with their donations and experience the
environment we provide. This has increased our donor base and their willingness to support our charitable efforts. Our friendly community supported environment allows people to shop with dignity and to
afford a few extras. This promotes some sense of independence and ownership in the operation. Once they no longer qualify or need
clothing assistance, they have a place where they can pay their own way for as long as they want or need to.



As an organization, we have established relationships with 85 social service agencies serving our city in some way or another. They can provide client referrals for the people they work with.  Referrals are then processed through our Administration offices, where we have
developed a data base to minimize abuse of the system and at the same time provide a method to report back to referring agencies so they can assess their contribution efforts on behalf of our agency. It also allows us to report back any potential abuse from individuals seeking duplication of referrals.



Broadly speaking, we have divided our long term efforts into 2
categories: Clothing Bank (Free) Programs and Stepping Stone
Programs, designed to help clients help themselves.


Free Clothing programs:

  • Community Partners Referral Program
  • The Undercover Project: An underwear and socks program for school age children, heavily promoted for the Christmas season
  • The Homeless Project
  • Dress for Success
  • Disaster Relief Program

Stepping Stone Programs

  • The Clothing Center (Retail storefront)-Not a Thrift Store
  • The How Experience (Hands on Work)
  • Dress for Success (Workshop connected to the Free Clothing

 Additional Program Details:

The HOW Experience:

In support of the distribution expenses, we have



2016 HOW program youth participant

CCA supervisor developing front customer operations

2016 summer students helping the organization to grow

The community clothing bank growing

Shoes selection at CCA