Antioch Traveling Closet to hold giveaway Dec. 15
The Antioch Traveling Closet will be holding its annual Winter Giveaway Event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Antioch Senior Center, 817 Holbek Drive. Area residents in need are welcome.
Attendees will be able to select from a variety of clothes, especially winter wear, shoes, toiletries, personal hygiene products, and home cleaning supplies, and will also be able to get a haircut and ask medical-related questions from professionals in the field, all at no cost.
Going on six years, the ATC is experiencing healthy growth since being founded by Lisa Fisher of Antioch.
It all began with Fisher's belief that no one should be deprived of life's basic necessities, and that donors of essential items, (clothing, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies) and the needy should have a liaison that could facilitate distribution of the donations.
Fisher took it upon herself to purchase clothing and nonperishable food, which she anonymously gave to needy children through a teacher at a school. Though this temporarily helped a few students, Fisher felt this aid could reach more.
Her discussions with friends and family about the idea of forming a volunteer-driven group that would hold giveaway events for the needy was positively received. It was christened the "Antioch Traveling Closet," and the ATC began to sprout.
The first ATC giveaway event, held at an Antioch grade school, was a modest but successful event. A total of 35 individuals turned out for the debut, staffed by a handful of volunteers, including Fisher herself.
As word of the first event spread, donations of cash, gently-used clothing, shoes, and more began to find their way to the ATC. The items filled Fisher's garage and a large storage unit. It was decided that the second event would be held in mid-December 2015, catering to both the area's youth and to adults.
The Antioch Senior Center on Holbek Drive offered its meeting place to the ATC as the venue for the charity gathering. Several volunteer professional hairstylists offered their services for free to anyone requesting a haircut. The number of attendees mushroomed.
Since its second year, the ATC has held three giveaway events each year, all located at the Antioch Senior Center: a spring event in April, a "back-to-school" event in August, and the holiday event in mid-December.
Preparation for each event requires an additional day of setup time. An army of volunteers and two box trucks, on loan from the local Piggly Wiggly supermarket, were used to transport the ever-growing number of donated items to and from the senior center and storage facilities.
Hair stylists, now numbering up to seven, continue to give haircuts, and additional services, such as health screenings and blood pressure testing, are now given. Other charitable organizations, such as The Period Collective, are on-site at each event offering their goods, services and advice.
Since earlier this year, the Antioch Senior Center has been kind enough to let the ATC store its items in their basement. This has saved the organization the much-needed cash spent on storage facilities.
There has been a price to pay for the success of the Antioch Traveling Closet, however.
Nearly 400 attendees were at the 2019 Spring Event. This fact, along with the increased area required by the donated items, pack the senior center from wall to wall. Additional volunteer groups require more floor space, as well, though this commodity is finite in availability.
Weather permitting, sections of the giveaway events have had to be moved outdoors into the parking lot to make more room within the hall.
Both storage and event space have become a serious problem. Further, the goods and services that the ATC offers are available to those in need year-round, not only at the annual events. Floods, fires and other tragedies have no schedule, nor do they discriminate against economic classes.
Fisher would like the public's access to the ATC to be even more readily available than they are now.
It is Fisher's hope that either through an increase in cash donations or through the donation of the use of a store front, the Antioch Traveling Closet can one day have its own base of operations, where donated items can be permanently stored and where area residents in need can drop by as needed.
The Antioch Traveling Closet is a not-for-profit, 501©(3) organization. Cash donations can be made by visiting antiochtravelingcloset.org. PayPal and all major credit cards are accepted. Donations are tax-deductible.
If you would like to help the ATC in their quest to obtain a permanent headquarters or if you know of someone who might be interested in donating that space, contact Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org; visit antiochtravelingcloset.org or www.facebook.com/groups/1514959285410159; follow ATC on Twitter at @ATwitC; or contact the ATC by mail: Antioch Traveling Closet Corporation, NFP, PO Box 251, Antioch, IL 60002.