MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- A local outreach group is celebrating 10 years of donating clothes to area families.
Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday from 9-12 at the Middleton Outreach Distribution Center. It is a bittersweet birthday, though; volunteers say they're troubled by the number of people in their own community who cannot afford new clothes, but happy to help as many as they can.
All this started with Connie Ott's dream to clothe the community, and in 10years, that dream has come a long way.
"We opened in a one-bedroom apartment behind the offices of the Middleton Outreach Ministry, and we've been going strong ever since," said Ott.
The Clothing Closet gives away free clothes to people who need them -- people like Mohammad Jabri of Middleton, whose work as a contractor took a nosedive in 2009.
"I lost my job, I lost everything I had and now I'm out of work almost," said Jabri.
He found some work washing dishes at a nearby restaurant, but a minimum-wage salary just doesn't cut it.
"I have two little kids; I have to feed them. I have to do something. I feel like I should not be here, but I have to," said Jabri.
Before times were tough, Jabri was the one donating the clothes to places like Goodwill, not knowing one day he'd be on the receiving end.
"Now I need help. I need help very bad. I can't even pay my rent. This month, [my landlord] says if I don't pay, he's going to kick me out and I don't know what I'll do," said Jabri.
Thanks to the Clothing Closet, Jabri's two children have some new clothes.
Some of the most popular items include business attire, like suit jackets. Ott says she sees a lot of people who just got a new job, but cannot afford new clothes for work.
"We had one woman who had gotten a job but was very concerned [about not have enough clothes], and we were able to provide her with a full week of clothing, and she went away with the biggest smile I have ever seen. It's a very good feeling, and you can be having a rotten day otherwise, but you know you've made a difference," said Ott.
Ott says the Clothing Closet serves approximately 300 households each month. The program is supported entirely by the Middleton community, with cash, food and clothing donations of more than $1.2 million each year.