LaGRANGE — When folks walk into the Yolanda K. Jabaley Clothing Center on Byron Hurst Street for the first time, they might think they’re walking into a mini department store.
People are immediately greeted by friendly, smiling faces and soon overwhelmed by the sight of rows of racks after racks filled with brightly colored clothing for men, women and children — all neatly organized according to size, style and color.
Along the sides of the of the store are shelves and drawers, some filled with accessories like shoes, belts and purses, and others for more intimate needs like socks, bras and underwear.
In this store, no one brings a wallet filled with money. Instead, folks are asked to bring a 30 gallon trash bag that they are allowed to fill once a month with as many clothing items as they need for themselves and their family — no questions asked, except, “How may we help you?”
“There is a greater need than people realize,” said Wanda Ann Kinnaman, director of the clothing center. ”Sometimes we don’t think of clothing as being an important need … but it’s a self-confidence booster, it helps build self-esteem, especially if you are looking for a new job.”
Kinnaman said the Yolanda K. Jabaley Clothing Center has been clothing families in the community for 51 years. The group serves families with children from birth until they are 18 and still in high school.
“We had a 13-year-old boy that came in last year with his family. He was so ecstatic that we had clothes that would fit him … and help him fit in at school. He was so ecstatic that soon after he left, he came running back in and said, ‘thank you.’ That means so much to hear that … to know you’re making a difference,” Kinnaman said.
Kinnaman explained that potential clients must register for the clothing program first at one of four downtown LaGrange churches: Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, First Baptist Church on the Square, First Presbyterian Church or First United Methodist Church, or through the Department of Children and Family Services.
“This is not just a hand out. It’s not just ‘something for free,’” Kinnaman said about requirements to use the clothing center. “You have to go and get a referral form from one of the churches, and you must have a photo ID.”
According to Kinnaman, in 2014 the Yolanda K. Jabaley Clothing Center helped clothe almost 3,000 people in our community. She said that number does not include children.
So far in 2015, the center has served close to 1,400 residents, not including children. During that time, volunteers also gave out underwear and socks to just under 4,000 children in our area.
“It can be startling to see how many families we’ve helped over the three years I’ve been here. It always amazes me,” Kinnaman said. “I’m thankful to know we’ve been able to help as many people as we can.”
The Yolanda K. Jabaley Clothing Center is open 10 a.m.–noon Tuesdays and 1–3 p.m. Thursdays.
The group is always looking for volunteers and gently used clothing donations, plus new packages of socks and underwear for men, women and children of all ages and sizes.
Anyone who would like to help them out, find out more information or make a monetary donation can contact Wanda-Ann Kinnaman at [email protected]
Folks can also mail her at:
Yolanda Jabley Clothing Center
Attn. Wanda-Ann Kinnaman, director
C/o First United Methodist Church
401 Broad St.
LaGrange, GA 30240
Kinnaman asked that folks not leave any donations outside the clothing center when it is closed.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.