Columbia River Community Services Office hosts Clothing Corner for clients

Donated items from employees at the Columbia River CSO. Photo courtesy of Monte Constable.

What started last September as a one-time employee clothing swap organized by the wellness committee at the Columbia River Community Services Office in Vancouver, Washington has turned into a daily resource bank for clients who come to the Department of Social and Health Services’ largest office in the state.

“DSHS employees gave far more than they took,” Community Services Office Administrator Monte Constable said of the staff donations for the clothing swap. “Rather than take the excess to Goodwill, we offered the surplus to the clients who were already in our lobbies.”

Donations filled three office cubicles with shoes, coats, scarves, pants, dresses and more, for adults and kids alike. Families have also received stuffed animals and diapers, and recipients have swapped relieved sighs, enormous smiles and even a few joyful tears after receiving the donated items.

The wellness committee stocks and refreshes the closet during breaks and lunch times, or before and after shifts start.

“Why not?” asked Brenda Brobst, a records analyst in the office, who noticed the positive effects of giving and receiving on staff and clients alike. “It becomes fun and doubly rewarding. How could you not be happy?”

The Clothing Corner is just one example of DSHS employees throughout Washington state volunteering to provide resources to the communities where they work and live. Many of our Community Services Offices offer clients access to mini clothes closets, little food pantries and even hygiene products as well as books for families and kids. These little extras can make a big difference and help supplement the important services offered by DSHS and partner agencies when increasing needs outpace the help that existing structures and programs can offer.