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Christmas Clothes Closet seeking building donation

August 4, 2012
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor ( , The Herald-Star

Kelly Bozeman said her phone rings all the time with people either wanting to donate items to the Christmas Clothes Closet that she and her family founded five years ago or to get help from the grassroots giveaway that assists people in need.

But the Steubenville woman is hoping for a call that will put the charity on track for being a year-round assistance effort with a stationary location where she can expand operations.

The call she's hoping for would be from someone willing to donate building space so the Christmas Clothes Closet can help people year-round.

Article Photos

Kelly Bozeman

A truck for picking up and delivering donations would be nice, too, Bozeman added.

"With us having our nonprofit status now, we want a building. We're trying to find someone to donate space to us. We want to be able to be stationary in one area," Bozeman said.

"I'm running out of space, so that's why we're looking to see maybe someone in Cadiz or Hopedale or Jewett somewhere would donate a building for us. They can use it as a tax writeoff, and they're helping us, too," Bozeman said during a Wednesday interview.

"We're looking for a donation of a building where we can go in and set everything up. Somehow we'll pull together within the family and pay the utilities - that won't be a problem - but we have to find someplace where we can be stationary because now Belmont County is involved with us, Carroll County, Harrison County, and they're all doing referrals, plus we've helped five families in Steubenville so far in the last four months who have been burned out (of their homes,)" Bozeman said.

The Christmas Clothes Closet started last minute in December 2008 as a holiday giveaway by Bozeman and family members. The former Kelly Lackey and her mother, Sandra Coletti, were contemplating how they had a lot of stuff, from clothing to household items. Things in good condition that they just didn't use or need any more.

Bozeman said reports of the sour economy and people out of work fueled their idea to organize a giveaway of items to anyone who needed them. The Hopedale Fire Department offered her the social hall for free. Bozeman went to the Harrison County Social Services, and they sent flyers home to all the schools to take home to parents.

In less than two weeks, Bozeman and family and friends put together a giveaway in 2008 that helped 150 families that first year. They gave away blankets, coats, clothing, household items and more.

In 2009, 250 families were helped, according to Bozeman.

In 2010, it was 1,013 families helped over a four-day period.

In 2011, it was 1,983 families.

What started out to be just Harrison County grew to include Jefferson, Belmont and Carroll counties and anyone else in need, according to Bozeman, who said she has a house nearly full of donated items.

Although the name suggests it's a holiday-only effort, it's grown beyond that as Bozeman said the donations are coming year-round as are the requests for assistance. So far this year, there have been 150 families helped with referrals through a combination of Catholic Charities, social services, fire departments and word of mouth, she said.

Bozeman said the Hopedale Fire Department won't be able to be used for the Christmas time giveaway, and if no building location is secured, the giveaway will still occur the week before Christmas as it has in the past. She said the Cadiz and Belvedere volunteer fire departments have offered space for the holiday event.

"What we're looking for, though, is a building where we can set up, be stationary, then we can hold the Christmas Clothes Closet there the week before Christmas. At this point, we want to be open three days a week to do referrals from social services, from the churches, any organizations, the fire departments, etc.," she said.

In between juggling two jobs, Bozeman said the effort toward the Christmas Clothes Closet is one she does because "it makes me feel good."

Bozeman can be contacted at (740) 424-6059. The Christmas Clothes Closet also has a Facebook site.

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