One woman’s mission to stack the racks at Everybody’s Closet

Customers are encouraged to socialize while they browse the free clothing
By Dan Aznoff | Dec 21, 2018
Courtesy of: Carl Gibson Senior Center in Everett Nancy Fischer poses with one of the mannequins used to display the items available for free from Everybody’s Closet. The clothing and personal items are collected by non-profit groups from throughout Snohomish County, then displayed on a revolving schedule at the Senior Center in Everett and the Advent Lutheran Church in Mill Creek.

Bright-eyed Nancy Fischer is not a magician, but she does know how to turn an old shirt into a meal that can feed a hungry family halfway around the world.

Fischer is the heart and soul of the clothing bank known as Everybody’s Closet that distributes wardrobe items every month out of the Carl Gibson Senior Center in Everett and the Advent Lutheran Church in Mill Creek.

She remembers one child’s shirt donated by a woman who was reluctant to leave the item because it was the only item she had to drop off that day. Fischer assured the woman the shirt would bring joy to somebody very special.

The shirt was eventually selected by another woman, who in turn clothing as part of a shipment to a village in a rural section of the Philippines. She said the shirt was given to a family who sold the shirt in exchange for enough money to feed the family for an entire week.

“That’s just one example of the magic we can perform through our efforts right here in our community,” Fischer told The Beacon. “In addition to the free clothing, we provide coffee and snacks. We encourage people to socialize while they explore the many tables and hanging racks of available items.”

The inventory at Everybody’s Closet is stocked with gently used (and sometimes new) items collected through charities throughout Snohomish County. The unique clothes bank often features new items donated from upscale retailers, including Nordstrom.

Everybody’s Closet was designed to live up to its name. There are no financial limitations or requirements to shop at either location. Fischer described Everybody’s Closet is a great place for men and women to shop to get the professional attire for an important job interview or for an outfit for a night on the town.

Both locations feature a wide range of clothing for men, women and children. However the donations of clothing for men is significantly smaller.

“Men seem to hang on to their clothes much longer, as opposed to women who switch with the seasons,” Fischer said. “Children seem to outgrow their clothes before the second time they are washed.

“Men will wear their clothes until they are so thin you can read a newspaper though them.”

The donations are sorted and organized at a storage unit made available to the program through a donation from the Senior Center. The items, she said, are contributed by  “Generous people who share excess items from their own closets or from people who need to dispose of items after a loved one passes away.”

The donations that arrive from the estates, she said, often include items to help seniors deal with incontinence.

The single storage unit in Everett is filled to the rafters with boxes of clothing that are sorted by volunteers like Tom Coyle before they can be displayed to the customers of Everybody’s Closet. Fischer said there is no money available to rent additional space to stock more donations.

Everybody’s Closet began as Fischer’s way of giving away items from her own busting closets and contributions from friends. The first incarnation in her home was called Nancy’s Closet. The name changed when the donations she collected exceed the available space Fischer had to host the event from her home.

“I never knew where this venture would take me,” she reflected. “But I always knew the next step would be there ready for me to take. Everybody’s Closet has been a blessing in my life and a wonderful gift to members of our community.”

The clothing is collected by volunteer organizations throughout the county, including the YMCA and Volunteers of America and delivered to the Senior Center once every week to give the outlets an ever-changing variety of fashion and some classic standards.

“We are the miracle of what can be accomplished,” said Fischer, “using a zero income based platform.”

Donations for Everybody’s Closet can be dropped off anytime in bins at the Carl Gibson Senior Center at 3025 Lombard Ave. in Everett or at the Advent Lutheran Church, 4306 132nd St. SE in Mill Creek.  For more information or to volunteer at an upcoming Everybody’s Closet event, leave a message for Nancy at 425-322-3230.

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