‘Anything and everything counts’: Clean out your closet and help the Crisis Center

(Graphic courtesy of Katelyn Andrist)

The Spring Closet Clean Out with The Crisis Center Inc. started on April 3 and will last through April 10. The Crisis Center is a shelter for victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. 

Katelyn Andrist, senior in human health and family sciences, started the project and said she encourages everyone to participate. She runs the project by herself.

“Last year around this time I was living in Kappa Delta and I noticed that a lot of girls were switching their clothes from winter to springtime,” Andrist said. And so I thought, ‘Well, why don’t we as a community come together and all just clean out our closets?’”

Donations have expanded from just clothing; Andrist now takes household products, such as cleaners, toiletries and grooming supplies, in addition to women’s and children’s clothing. More information about in-kind donations the center accepts can be found on The Crisis Center’s website. 

“Since they are in a location that is discreet, [the center doesn’t] get that many items on the daily,” Andrist said. “So for me, it was really important to go in there and talk with them and let them know that we’re doing this for them.”

The Crisis Center serves Riley, Marshall, Clay, Geary and Pottawatomie counties. Kathy Ray, executive director of The Crisis Center, said the organization has other resources besides the safe shelter available to victims.

“We provide court advocacy, individual counseling, support groups, crisis intervention and we also have 24/7 live-answer hotlines,” Ray said. “We are around-the-clock any time someone needs us.”

Andrist said it’s special to see the impact projects like this have on women at the center. 

“Just to hear these women’s stories — that they are trying to create a better life, circumstance and so much more for themselves and their families — it’s truly amazing,” Andrist said. “People forget, when you do have an intimate abusive relationship, that it’s much harder said than done to leave that situation.”

It takes minimal effort to donate to the Spring Closet Cleanout, Andrist said. 

“To be able to just give back to them as simply as cleaning out your closet — you’re about to change mothers and people’s lives and make them feel like Manhattan really does care about them,” Andrist said. 

Having clothes that fit and new toiletries help women at the shelter feel confident, Andrist said.

“Our clothing that has just been hanging up in our closets for how many months that we haven’t even touched — by giving that to somebody, you’re building up her self esteem,” Andrist said. “At the end of the day, we’re all meant to love and to receive love.” 

Andrist wants people to know it’s simple for you to donate. She will pick up your donations and drop them off at the center.

“If you have literally anything, I don’t mind swinging by your house to come grab it; just put it on your porch,” Andrist said. “Right now, my car is pretty much full. I have one big box and I have about six different trash bags full just from Manhattan.”

Volunteering is another great way to help victims at The Crisis Center. Ray said the center is especially needing volunteers for the Police Response Advocate program. 

“We are currently trying to fill shifts for [the Police Response Advocate program],” Ray said. “We have volunteers who typically come from K-State who meet with victims when there’s a domestic violence call that comes in to the police department. That’s just a way to get them some more information about us and then our staff follows up with them the next day.”

Ray said to keep an eye out for volunteer training dates in the fall. Dates will be posted on the website.

Andrist said you shouldn’t be afraid to offer your time as a volunteer because it is a rewarding experience. 

“If you can volunteer your time, you should go out of your comfort zone,” Andrist said. “With it being a domestic violence and abuse center, I think that scares a lot of people away because there are some heavy emotions, but I think if you take that risk and you take that jump of faith to just be yourself, you never know who you’re going to impact.”

The Spring Closet Cleanout lasts through April 10, so reach out to Katelyn Andrist at 316-680-7522 of you have anything to give.

“We’re still taking donations until Monday,” Andrist said. “Anything and everything counts.”

(Photo courtesy of Katelyn Andrist)