Moms On a Mission (clothing) Exchange has been on a mission to help others for almost 9 years. Clothing exchanges/giveaways have taken place and will continue once a month in the fellowship hall at Milton United Methodist Church, 241 Northside Drive. The next one is 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, at the church. Events are usually at that time on the second Saturday of the month.
Not everyone can make it at that time or sometimes a need for clothing is more immediate.
With that in mind, M.O.M.E. (pronounced “mommy”) volunteers have been working to expand. For about two months, they have been sorting and organizing clothing at 602 W. Madison Ave., which had been Junction Station and before that, Bob’s Citco Mini Mart.
For M.O.M.E. Director Jolyn Stankus, having a location where she can keep clothes organized on shelves and in bins full-time is a dream come true.
“I wanted to be able to provide for more families and more people in general,” Stankus said. “I’ve always wanted to be set up on a permanent basis locally in Milton just because that’s where my foundation is.”
The space on Madison Avenue isn’t large enough to accommodate the monthly exchanges, instead it will be used in other ways.
“If there’s a house fire, a hardship, anything that comes about, instead of digging through totes in a garage to find items that families need, we will be able to come here,” she said.
Initially, Stankus said the second location will be open by appointment through the M.O.M.E. Facebook page.
Volunteers will continue to set up tables full of clothes in the fellowship hall at the church, as they have been doing for nine years this February.
Stankus said M.O.M.E. has received lots of donations, and volunteers and other organizations have stepped in to help.
M.O.M.E. is not on its own a nonprofit, she said but through the church has had a nonprofit status.
With the building, which M.O.M.E. is renting at no cost, comes operational costs like water, electricity and propane heating. Expenses are paid by Stankus and by fundraising, which she said ultimately will determine how long M.O.M.E. has a second location.
A few things need to be done yet before the public can be invited into the new space. Last week, the fire inspector needed to give his OK.
Seeing the clothing at the Madison Avenue location or at the monthly exchange, it might seem like there’s no lack of clothing. When M.O.M.E. started, the saying was “bring a bag, take a bag.”
“We work with so many donators, it’s not really necessary anymore,” she said.
M.O.M.E. accepts donations for men, women (including maternity clothing) and children, but not necessarily for all seasons.
“We don’t have the space,” Stankus said, adding that the greatest need tends to be for men’s clothing donations.
Someday, Stankus said she would like to be in a larger space permanently. Today, she said, “I am very grateful for this building and being able to use the fellowship hall of the church.”
In recent months, M.O.M.E. has helped 80 to 100 families or individuals per month.
In November, M.O.M.E. helped 168 families in the Milton area and in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where a M.O.M.E. volunteer took a U-Haul with 80 totes of clothing for about 50 families.
For Stankus the reward is helping others provide clothing for their growing families and save money.
“We’re open to pretty much everyone,” she said. “It’s not income-based.”
In nine years, Stankus has seen the need to help increase.
And, as she did in the beginning, she welcomes anyone who hasn’t been to an exchange to check it out.