Clothing Closet: Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen

Judy Miller, manager of the Clothing Store at Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen, shown here with donations for PrincetonPeriod

Q&A with Judy Miller, manager of the Clothing Store at Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen, where she is also a board member. She arranges the table decor for each Wednesday meal, and she distributes clothing and other needed items during CCK meals.

Who gets the clothes?

The clothing is distributed at CCK dinners which are a fun place to sit and chat with folks from all different ages and stages. We have international students who come to practice their English skills, we have retirees, young families (primarily Spanish speaking), we have all ages and stages, quite a mix of people, nice people.

Under the new program, PrincetonPeriod, you are now also accepting feminine hygiene products? 

Yes, we are providing tampons and pads for girls and women who don’t have easy, reliable, affordable access to them.

What’s the best part of running the Clothing Closet?

I take the job of distribution very seriously. If someone’s been kind enough to gift us with certain resources, I really try to find that next home thoughtfully to match the gifted item with the need. Sometimes that is apparent immediately and sometimes it takes a while to achieve that best match.

The donation closet is always packed full. Where do those bags come from?

We get quite a range of clothes. For the kind of store that we are, we get above average quality. Some of it comes from consignment stores that we have a relationship with. And then we have students, who treat their clothes like students treat clothes! You have to sort of laugh!

What happens to the ‘less worthy’ donations?

I do a couple of loads of laundry a week to rescue things. If they realize their potential they get to come back to the store, if they don’t, they go to textile recycling.

Can you share any stories?

To protect privacy, I can’t provide details. Most of the time the items are distributed within the CCK population, but occasionally we have an opportunity to serve an international or county need by partnering with some other agency. For example, a Pakistani student at the seminary asked if there were things she could take to her own country. So a small number of backpacks and school supplies and clothing went with her. along with a suitcase to put it all in. We had a group of our CCK participants from Guatemala who still have family – in some cases children – still in that country. They asked if there was infants and children’s clothing that would be off season to us, but in season to them, that they could send.

More recently we partnered with Witherspoon Presbyterian Church to help repair their windows. Some items we weren’t able to find home for – because of size or season or some specific feature – we passed along to enhance what they could offer at their thrift sale.  That’s an example of a local use of resources sent to a different location that had great merit. In some cases, selected items sent elsewhere makes sense.

Thank you, Judy, for your dedicated service! To volunteer to help in Cornerstone Community Kitchen, click here. 

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