WILKES-BARRE – What started as a small effort to provide children’s clothing to families in need has grown into a large-scale effort that supports hundreds of people annually.
Each week, dozens of people receive help from Treasures, a clothing closet ministry operated by volunteers of Saints Peter & Paul Parish in Plains.
“It has really taken on a life of its own,” organizer Laura Rudloff said. “Everyone is welcome. There are no need based requirements.”
After operating at Saints Peter & Paul Parish in Plains for its first two years in existence, in 2020, the clothing closet moved to the former rectory of Saint Dominic Church on Austin Avenue in Wilkes-Barre. However, it is quickly running out of room once again to sort, organize and display all of the clothing items donated.
With the closure of Saint Dominic Church on June 11, 2022, Treasures is poised to move again – this time into part of the closed church building.
“I’m excited about it. I’ve already been thinking, what else can we do besides clothes?” Rudloff said. “How else can we serve the people who are coming? What other needs are there?”
On a recent Friday, several women were shopping for free clothes at Treasures, which is set-up boutique-style and offers a wide variety of sizes and styles. Clothing for women, men and children are available.
“We have beautiful clothes, high-end clothes,” volunteer Arlene Komnath explained.
In a back room, Komnath and several other volunteers needed to step over bags of donations as they worked to sort everything that had come in recently. By moving into the former church, the volunteers would have more space to spread out.
“We’re very fussy. We don’t put anything out that is smudged, dirty or smoky,” volunteer Norma Nardone admitted. “What we are trying to do is help the people who need help.”
Treasures is currently open on Monday evening from 5-7 p.m. and Friday morning from 10 a.m. until Noon. On average, at least 20 people visit the clothing closet each day that it is open.
“We also work with social workers. They will call and say ‘we just met a family and this is the need’ and we will fill it,” Rudloff said. The volunteers from Treasures also help refugees, students from local school districts and many others.
Volunteer June Olszewski, 91, said Treasures recently helped a woman who lost everything in a fire.
“She had nothing except the clothes on her back so it was nice that we could outfit her completely,” she explained.
While it is unknown exactly when Treasures will move into the former Church of Saint Dominic, its organizer says their mission will not change.
Volunteers will continue God’s work, taking the Gospel message of serving others out into the community.
“I enjoy it because I get to know the people and their stories and they become friends after a while,” Rudloff said. “I’m pretty excited about moving. I know it will be a lot of work to fix up the church but we’ve done it before!”