1 of 2
Photo by Diane Cox
Residents line up to receive free underwear, socks, thermal underwear and undershirts.
2 of 2
Photo by Diane Cox
Alton resident Jonathan Wohlgemuth receives free undergarments from Nancy Taylor at the Underwear Drawer at Community Hope Center in Cottage Hills on Jan. 22.
COTTAGE HILLS — Nancy Taylor has volunteered at the Community Hope Center for more than a year with a heartfelt project aiming to provide for one of the most overlooked essentials for residents in need.
Taylor accepts donations of new or gently used undergarments including socks, underwear and undershirts to distribute free of charge to residents and their immediate family members.
Denise Ukena, assistant executive director at the Community Hope Center, says Nancy’s work is one that presents a challenge but is also one of the more important services they offer.
“We receive used clothing donations by the tons throughout the year, but undergarments are different,” Ukena said. “With undergarments, we prefer them to be new or very gently used for sanitary purposes. It’s not as easy to find those items while sorting through clothing donations. That’s why undergarments are so overlooked.”
Taylor occasionally receives monetary donations to buy items in place of a physical donation.
“Sometimes people will give money because they didn’t know what size to donate,” Taylor said. “Money donations allow me to purchase unique sizes or items for special needs like diabetic socks. I always feel bad when someone in need comes in and we don’t have their size or something to fill their need. If their need is special and we come across that item, I do my best to put it aside for that individual when they return. It feels amazing to help others and to see their needs met. I get so emotional and I cry often, but I love the people who come to see me for help.”
Lisa Cotton of Alton visited Taylor’s Underwear Drawer for the first time on Friday and was amazed how much it helped her family of seven get through a tough time.
“This is such a blessing,” Cotton said. “It’s a relief to know that they can help us in a time of need like this. Things are tough and we sometimes forget the small things like underwear until they become a need. I appreciate those who donate to the Underwear Drawer and to other services at the Community Hope Center. If it wasn’t for them, people wouldn’t be able to have the simple everyday things they need.”
The center formed in 1988 as a nonprofit corporation with the primary purpose to help individuals and families experiencing poverty and homelessness in the Riverbend with programs that meet their needs. The center is supported by businesses, foundations and private donations — it receives no state funding.
“We ask that as the warmer season approaches, warm weather attire is also needed,” Ukena said. “So often people get busy when the weather warms up. Donations drop considerably around that time. There is definite need all year long and we are so thankful to those who give regularly or even just once.”
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Underwear Drawer can contact Nancy Taylor at (618) 210-7785 or drop off a donation of new or very gently used underwear, socks, thermal underwear and undershirts at the Community Hope Center, 1201 Hope Center Lane (P.O. Box 124) in Cottage Hills. Monetary donations are welcome with “Underwear Drawer” written on the memo line of the check. All donations are tax-deductible.
Follow @NewsAdVantage on Twitter