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Community Clothes Closet in New Kensington moving to former St. Joseph School

September 23, 2018
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Exterior of New Kensington’s community clothes closet along Tenth Street, will be moving to the former St.Joseph School on Leishman Avenue. Monday August 27, 2018.

Community Clothes Closet in New Kensington will move to a new location next month while maintaining its mission of selling inexpensive clothing to those in need.

The nonprofit will relocate from 319 10th St. to the St. Joseph Parish school building at 1125 Leishman Ave., about a half-mile away.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting this is to actually be able to expand. (It’s) a dream come true,” said Christina Discello, director of the Community Clothes Closet.

The nonprofit, a social ministry of Mount St. Peter Parish, has to move because Wesley Family Services is building a four-story, 36-unit apartment and office building at its old location.

It will close Wednesday, move Sept. 8, and reopen at its new location Sept. 17.

A grand opening with free food and drinks is set for Sept. 22.

“It’s kind of win-win,” Discello said. “They had empty rooms, we needed a place to go. It worked out.”

Discello said Monsignor Michael Begolly, the pastor at Mount St. Peter Parish, is the one who found the new location. Begolly said he asked the Rev. John Szczesny, pastor at St. Joseph Parish, if they could put the closet there, and he “graciously agreed.”

Attempts to reach Szczesny for comment weren’t successful.

The facility will be below the gym, with access from Kenneth Avenue.

The new location will have more space than the old one, which will allow the closet to offer a bigger selection and variety of merchandise, Discello said.

It will take up space in six former classrooms.

“We are going to have a place to sit down and have a cup of coffee with us while you’re shopping,” Discello said. “We just want to be able to visit with our customers, and get to know them and they can get to know us, and we can just offer more to them.”

The closet runs on donations

The closet has been around for seven years and runs entirely on donations.

It sells new or gently used clothes for men, women and children for prices ranging from 25 cents to $2.

Other offerings include shoes, boots, hats, coats, scarves, purses, and toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, razors, and shaving cream. Toiletries are a quarter.

Only cash is accepted.

“We’re just there to help people who need it,” Discello said. “If they can’t afford it, it’s given to them. We don’t turn anybody away.”

The money generated from the sales goes into the parish’s Matthew 25 Emergency Fund to pay for things such as utilities for the closet, Begolly said. The fund was named after Matthew 25, which encourages people to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and take care of those who are poor.

“We put the money back in,” Discello said. “Nobody’s making any money.”

Linda Mosberg, of Arnold, has been coming to the closet since it opened. She said it’s a blessing.

“For a $1, where are you getting a shirt, or a sweater?” she said. “You can’t get that anywhere.”

She said the move will be a great thing because there will be more room for more people to come.

“It’s just going to be more convenient,” she said.

Mayor Tom Guzzo also thinks the move will be good for the closet. He said he has always supported the closet’s mission and will continue to do so.

“It’s a really important and necessary operation,” he said.

Wesley Family Services plans to break ground on the apartment complex in December, the mayor said.

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