Think about those special occasion outfits that take up space in the closet, the gently used handbags boxed up in the back or the baby clothes tucked in a chest, but sorely needed by young mothers.
They all add up to more than $10,000 annually for charities in the Winter Park area.
Hannah’s Closet, a consignment drive that happens over a weekend in February but takes all year to come together, focuses on supporting charities that work with women and children.
First United Methodist Church of Winter Park has been at it for about 20 years, and, like clockwork, the donations pour in and so do the shoppers.
It has been a blessing for nonprofit groups that help children in Title I schools, for foster youngsters and women in crises.
“Some of the women at the church, and I believe they all had young children, started it by just selling consignment during the church’s fall festival,” Hannah’s Closet Chair Jennifer Richardson said.
“We usually had a big crowd for that. Then, it grew and grew to be its own thing.”
These days, the event fills the church’s gym.
|The team joins hands in a prayer circle while preparing for the Hannah's Closet consignment sale.|
“It’s like 75,000 items. It’s a huge amount,” Richardson said. “All consignment. For our ministry, we keep 40 percent, and the seller gets 60 percent.”
Many have heard of the Ruth Circle, which is typically operated by the older women in a Methodist church to foster fellowship. Hannah’s Closet helps the community through younger women.
Sellers can retrieve their merchandise after the February sale if it isn’t sold, or they can donate it.
At the end of the sale, shoppers can stuff a bag for $10.
While the church only holds the sale once a year, the group meets monthly.
“We basically, from the sale, we get about $10,000 for our ministry and once a month, we have a charity come and speak to us about what they do, and we will donate money to them.”
Having a pre-school at the church helps bring in customers.
“We get a lot of really quality stuff, a lot of name brand things. I would say it is 60 percent clothes and then toys and strollers and bikes, baby gear. We have a lot of grandmas that want to get things to keep at their homes for when the grand kids visit,” Richardson said.
A core group of 10-15 attends monthly planning meetings, and another 30-40 women who have been active throughout the years come out and work at the sale.
“We get tons of shoppers,” Richardson said. “And this year, we told a lot of the local public schools and had them come. The Foundation of Orange County Public Schools, which supports Title One schools and their families, was a presenter to receive a check this year.”
Organizations usually get a check for at least $1,000. That includes the Methodist Children’s Home, to which the church always contributes.
“It’s a great organization, and it’s pretty close to all of our hearts,” Richardson said.
This year, Hannah’s Closet supported actor Paul Newman’s nearby Camp Boggy Creek, for kids who would not normally be able to afford summer camp. Cannonball Kids Cancer also received a check.
“It’s crazy on sales day,” Richardson said. “The really emotional moment for me is when you open the doors at 5 p.m. on the first day, and there is a line of over 200 people. It’s pretty emotional to really see that happening.”
—Yvette C. Hammett is a freelance writer from Valrico.