If you happen to drive by on Ridley Street, you may notice that the Yolanda K. Jabaley Clothing Center is no longer there. That’s because the store has temporarily found a new home.
Families will still be able to receive their back-to-school clothing needs but will now have to go to the store located on Broome Street, in the alley by the back entrance of Solomon’s between Main Street and South Lewis Street.
The previous building will be taken down and transported to a new location according to Fern Bergeron, president of LaGrange and Troup County Council of Church Women (LTCW), to make room for the construction of the amphitheater. The permanent location has yet to be decided.
The store, facilitated by the LTCW, is run strictly on a volunteer basis August through May by a collaboration of 15 different churches in LaGrange and Troup County.
Families in Troup County who are referred by social service agencies, churches or schools can come once a month and fill up to a 30 gallon bag with free clothing.
According to current director Rose Meister, 2,980 people have been served since August 2013 and 167 children have received shoes. The center logged 952 volunteer hours since August as well.
Formerly known as the LaGrange Clothing Center, the store change its name to the Yolanda K. Jabaley Clothing Center several years ago to honor former director Jabaley for her 38 years of service to the store.
What began in 1951 from an idea by a truant officer grew into a larger force that has stood the test of time in LaGrange. Even through the generations and many location changes, the clothing center still serves hundreds of families in Troup County.
Jabaley shared the history of the service-based organization stating its presence came out of a purpose to keep kids in school. An officer in 1950 saw that students were not attending schools because of a lack of clothing and shoes. From this need, she approached several churches who partnered up to provide this need to the community. What started out as a partnership between three churches has grown into 15 and several other organizations throughout the years.
The store was opened in a room on the square and has since been located on Church Street, Byron Hearst, Greenville Street, and most recently, Ridley to name a few. Jabaley was the director during five of these moves and said its staying power in the community through each of the location changes proves the necessity is still there for underprivileged families.
She added that statistics throughout the years show an average of 400-500 people served during opening weeks. Jabaley recalled many years where 40 or 50 people would be lined up out the building on opening day.
“Sometimes they’ve got three and four and five kids and you know right now there’s a lot of people out of work … it really is a help to them,” Jabaley said. “What money they have, they have to buy food, they have to pay their rent and they have utility bills.”
Jabaley shared stories from her years of service at the clothing center from providing clothes for ex-prisoners to wear to work, providing a family an outfit to bury their son in and giving women wedding and prom dresses for their most special occasions.
Though they offer men, women and children clothing, Bergeron and Jabaley both really emphasize the priority of the center is to provide for children’s needs to keep them in school.
Items for the store are either donated or purchased through monetary donations Bergeron said. Families can come and receive clothes, shoes, underwear and socks among other clothing items.
The store will open at its temporary location Aug. 5. Hours of operations will be from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Tuesday and from 1-3 p.m Thursday.