JEWETT - The Christmas Clothes Closet will mark its fifth year of helping area residents in need as it prepares for its annual distribution Monday through Saturday at the Jewett Wildcat Community Center located at the corner of Main and Rumley streets.
The distribution will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each of those days, according to Kelly Bozeman, director, and will include clothing, toys, books, baby items and household goods.
There also will be a drawing for larger toys in addition to a drawing for a lighted, decorated Christmas tree.
The grassroots giveaway began five years ago, the brainchild of Bozeman who described the project as a family-oriented one to help others in need.
Bozeman said reports of the sour economy and people out of work fueled their idea to organize a giveaway of items to anyone who needed them. In less than two weeks, Bozeman and family and friends put together a giveaway in 2008 that helped 150 families that first year. In 2009, 250 families were helped; in 2010, it was 1,013 families; and in 2011, it was 1,983 families.
"We're putting the final touches on everything," said the Steubenville resident Wednesday. "We had unbelieveable response to donations. Blessed Sacrament (in Wintersville) did a drive for us, and we ended up with a 10-foot truck filled to the top and five van loads full of blankets, totes, toys, sheets, towel sets, shoes, microwave ovens, furniture. It was just unbeliveable. It's just been amazing," she said.
"We have a lot of everything, except we are still in need of boys clothing size 8 to size 16. Everything else is coming along good. We have quite a few toys. Help Me Grow in Cadiz has donated two truckloads of toys," she said.
In addition to donations of items, the nonprofit is blessed with volunteers, she said. "We've had volunteers who have been amazing this year. Keith and Doreen Westlake of Wintersville and their two sons, Stephen and Jacob, teenage boys, they've been out there helping," Bozeman said. "We have new volunteers this year, too," she said, singling out Tom and Trudy Wright.
The Christmas Clothes Closet is operating out of the former school in a combination of donated and rented space, according to Bozeman.
The upcoming distribution is "for anyone in need," Bozeman said. "You come in and get a bag and get what you need." No registration is required.
The effort helps beyond Christmas, according to Bozeman. "After the first of the year, we will have two more events," she said. "What we did different this year is we took all the summer clothes and packed them in boxes so one event will be right before Easter, and then again before school starts we'll do something for the kids so we'll definitely try to gather more kids' clothes and bookbags," she said.
Bozeman emphasized the project is a family-oriented one.
"My family and I work on this project together. It is organized by my family. I came up with the idea, and we kind of ran with it. My family is still very much working on this," she said of the effort that includes her mother, Sandra Coletti.
The Christmas Clothes Closet Facebook page can be accessed at www.facebook.com/christmasclothescloset.
For information, contact Bozeman at (740) 424-6059.