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Straight from 'Grandma's Closet'

Have you ever wanted to get your child a really nice outfit for a special occasion, such as a christening, church Christmas program or special school occasion -- yet temporarily lacked the wherewithal to do so?

Have you ever gone to your granddaughter's or grandson's school Christmas program, and noticed that there was one child who stood out in the sea of suits and velvet dresses because they were dressed far too casually for the occasion? Have you ever wondered whether there might be a way to help that child get an outfit for that special occasion, even if their parents were experiencing temporary financial hardship?

The answer is yes, there is help available -- or at least, there will be after Dec. 1.

That's the projected opening date for "Grandma's Closet," a new parish outreach ministry of First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes.

As explained by its founder, Bernie Rodseth, the purpose of Grandma's Closet is "to provide clothing to children and teens for the special events of their lives, such as confirmation, first communion, family or school occasions."

Its name, she added, comes from the fact that "the person who often buys all the little 'extras' for the kids in the family is Grandma."

"But if they don't have a grandma, they can come to this 'Grandma's Closet' instead," Rodseth said.

She first approached her fellow members of the First Lutheran Church Health Cabinet with the idea "quite a while" ago. (The Health Cabinet oversees all the church's parish health ministry programs.)

Earlier this year, everything began to fall into place, and Rodseth hopes to have the program up and running in time for the Christmas holiday season.

Church volunteer Ray Scharnowske -- a talented carpenter -- created the closet space for the new enterprise, which is located in one of the church's old classrooms.

The fact that it is in an area not readily accessible to the general public will help to ensure the privacy of families that choose to utilize the service, Rodseth said.

"Everything is confidential here," she said.

The biggest obstacle to the Dec. 1 opening, Rodseth noted, will be gathering enough inventory.

"What I need is for people to provide us with nice, new clothing for children -- or the funding to go shopping for them," she said. "I'm a good shopper -- I like to watch sales."

Rodseth said she would keep a meticulous inventory of all donations, whether in the form of money or clothing, and because Grandma's Closet is a non-profit enterprise, all donations are tax deductible.

"Every bit of what is donated is tax deductible," Rodseth said. "This is a ministry."

Parish health nurse Carol Lambrecht, who has been working with Rodseth on setting up the enterprise, said that one thing people might want to keep in mind is that clothing is needed for children of all ages, not just the younger ones.

"High school kids also need dress-up clothing," she said, adding that children of that age often wear adult-sized clothing.

Though Grandma's Closet will provide to families of all denominations that do not have the financial ability to provide that "special occasion" garment or accessory for their children, Rodseth said the "rule of thumb" will be to limit each family's use of the Closet to three times per year.

For more information about Grandma's Closet, or how to make a donation, please contact First Lutheran Church at 847-5656 or Bernie Rodseth at 846-9533.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454