Niagara’s Mobile Closet delivers seasonal clothing to people who need it most | Popgen Tech
Niagarans who need access to clothing when they live in disadvantaged circumstances or are on a fixed income are helped through a service that provides people with adequate clothing year-round.
Niagara’s Mobile Closet, run by co-founder Amy Whittaker, travels throughout the region offering access to clothing for people who can’t afford it.
“NMC offers a lot of services, we have free shopping events (where people) can come and pick up what they need and shop with no questions asked,” Whittaker said.
“(There are) free toiletries, winter jackets, seasonal clothing, and we go out to low-income areas or libraries, community spaces, pre-arranged with our service providers.”
Whittaker said providing basic needs in the community, such as basic clothing, helps to restore dignity to the people who use the service.
The NMC recently launched a service for people who have an immediate need for clothing, such as when someone is discharged from hospital without appropriate clothing, called Mini Closets. NMC has 14 locations across the region and hopes to expand to 18-20 in the near future.
Mini Closets can be found at St. Catharines Hospital, Southridge Shelter and the Niagara Falls Regional Police Station, as well as temporary emergency shelters operated by Start Me Up Niagara and Safe Beds, as well as drop-in centers at safe injection sites on Queenston Street in St. Catharines.
Since launching in November 2021, Mini Closets has created a positive environment for people and community partners to foster better interactions, according to Whittaker.
She said trust and engagement with Mini Closets members has increased by 91 percent, as 87 percent of them are non-residents.
Whittaker said the service provided clothing to 2,285 “unique clothing crises.”
Through host agencies, more than 47 volunteers distributed about 670 winter jackets and nearly 2,200 pairs of new underwear, she said.
Whittaker said NMC recently teamed up with Start Me Up Niagara to expand access to dry, warm clothing.
“If someone’s clothes are dirty or wet, can we not give them dignity by offering them basic necessities that are provided for free by the people of Niagara?” she said.
“It’s such a small thing, but when you’re homeless, your dignity can be preserved.”
At least twice a month, volunteers restock the cabinets and make sure people who have access to them have the things they need, said volunteer Kathy Dryden.
She oversees the restocking of St. Catharines Hospital’s mini-cupboard, which is replenished every other week, as opposed to monthly for most other cabinets.
“Every time we come in, I get compliments saying, ‘We’re so grateful,’ and the patients are grateful that they don’t have to go out in bad weather in inappropriate clothing because we can give them a coat, a hat, and give them clothes,” she said. .