Every month, the Community Closet features a Park County charity that shoppers can donate directly to through the donation jar located on our cash register counter. April’s charity is the Friends of the Community. Run on a shoe-string budget with inspiring dedication by Executive Director Elaine Kimbler, their mission is “to alleviate the many sufferings of poverty experienced by so many in our community.” Friends of the Community provides basic assistance to people in need. “It’s one of the few agencies committed to helping people in financial crisis,” says Community Closet founder and CEO Caron Cooper of Kimbler, “We have been working with her for a decade and respect what she does in our community.”
The donation jar at the Community Closet is a practical and meaningful way for those enjoying the Community Closet to give back to the community – from a dime to a ten-dollar bill – it all makes a difference. Did you know when you shop at the Community Closet, proceeds also support charitable activities in Park County with grants? We’ ve donated over $4050,000 in cash grants as of December 2016. Friends of the Community has received grants from the Community Closet’s grant program as well as being the featured jar charity.
“Community Closet’s steadfast support of our mission in the community to help people through tough situations by providing basic assistance with gas, food, rent, medicine copays, utility costs, minor car repairs—whatever it takes—has been a huge blessing for the whole community, and we couldn’t be ‘the finger in the dike’ without them,” says Kimbler.
The Friends of the Community is there for people in poverty when they have nowhere else to turn. The organization prevents homelessness by covering rent, hotel rooms or campground lot fees in the short term, often while people are waiting for a first check from a new job or SSI support. “Homelessness does violence to the soul, so a little respite is really welcomed by those we have the funds to help,” says Kimbler. The group also helps struggling parents with children’s school supplies, provides funds for much needed groceries, basics like diapers, or visits to the laundromat. “We helped families with elementary-aged children get backpacks, school supplies, shoes and clothing for each child. The parents were so relieved that their children could start school with what they needed.” A frequent request is transportation help. People may need basic vehicle repairs in order to drive to out of town doctor appointments, gas money so they can look for – or get to – work, or take their children to medical appointments. Friends of the Community has also helped with bus tickets so a stranded person can travel to be with family, or get to a dream job across the country.
You can give directly to the Friends of the Community by mailing a check to 1313 W. Geyser Street, Livingston, MT 59047, phone 222-6526, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Kimbler and the Friends of the Community’s history in an article by Scott McMillion here and hear his interview on PBS.
In addition to the donation jar and annual grants, Community Closet provides schools and non-profits with no-cost merchandise from the Community Closet’s shelves; from drum kits for the Park High band, to cook books for the Livingston Food Resource Center.
If you know an organization or activity that may benefit from the Community Closet’s grant program, encourage them to check out the qualifications and simple application process at communitycloset.org/funding or email email@example.com. The 2017 funding application deadlines are: June 30, September 30, and November 24. The Community Closet is located at 416 East Park Street in Livingston and is open daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm.
Next time you donate to the charity jar at the Community Closet or shop at one of their stores, you can enjoy the added benefit of knowing you are supporting crucial organizations like Friends of the Community.