Act of kindness blossoms into nonprofit

by Nathan Warner

Contributing writer

It began as a small act of kindness to a young high school student who didn’t have her own pair of shoes. Now, it has grown into a wardrobe habitat named Carrie’s Closet, a nonprofit organization designed to help people in need by taking donations of clothes, shoes, purses and accessories.  Need something to wear, but can’t afford it? Have something you’d like to give to someone who may need it? Donate it to Carrie’s Closet.

Jessica Bloom (on right) founded Carrie’s Closet in 2011 in memory of her friend, Carrie Lorman (on left) who was killed in a car accident in 2009.

Jessica Bloom (on right) founded Carrie’s Closet in 2011 in memory of her friend, Carrie Lorman (on left) who was killed in a car accident in 2009.

Carrie’s Closet just turned 1 in December and celebrated last Friday and Saturday by opening its wardrobe for a donation and pick-up drive at the Zimmerman Civic Building.

“It was great! Much better than expected!” founder Jessica Bloom said. “We started with 44 bins and 15 garbage bags packed with clothes and by the end, we only had six left!”

That’s 44 more bins than Carrie’s Closet had when it was kindled in December of 2011. That spark of inspiration came from Jessica Bloom’s father, Zimmerman secondary school teacher Monte Bloom, who called her one night and asked if she had any extra clothes. “I asked him why,” Jessica recalls, “and he told me that there were students in the school who were wearing clothes that were too big for them because they didn’t have any that fit them — some even had holes in the middle of December!”

Carrie’s Closet went from a room full of clothes on racks down to only six bins of clothes. Before placing them out the clothes could fill about 50 bins.

Carrie’s Closet went from a room full of clothes on racks down to only six bins of clothes. Before placing them out the clothes could fill about 50 bins.

This story bothered Jessica, and she called her friends to see if anyone had extra clothes they didn’t need and were willing to give to a good cause.  The reaction she received was amazing.  “Everyone I talked to was so helpful and happy to give shoes, clothes and jackets,” Jessica recalls. “We were able to collect thousands of clothing articles to give to girls in high school that might not be able to afford them on their own.” This collection drive was held Dec. 9, the anniversary of when Jessica’s good friend, Carrie Ann Lorman, died in a car accident in Maple Grove a few years earlier, in 2009. Carrie was a 22-year-old college graduate of St. Cloud State University and had a 3-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, at the time of her death. “Carrie was an amazing friend and had a very giving soul,” Jessica remembers, “She was the first one to help someone no matter what they needed, and Carrie’s clothes in her closet were everyone’s clothes because she was so quick and happy to take something of hers and give it to someone who needed it.”  Carrie’s life inspired Jessica after that first drive to start a nonprofit organization with her friends’ help that gives clothes, jackets, purses and accessories to high school-age girls in need in Carrie’s name.

Since that first drive in 2011, Carrie’s Closet has grown to become a fully community-supported charity and now offers thousands of nice articles of clothing for guys, girls and children as well as shoes, purses, coats and dresses. Jessica and her friends feel the support. “Just as an example, Green Planet Consignment in Rogers donates all the clothes they don’t sell to us,” she says, “and the Rogers Lions Club donated $500 just the other day, so we feel the community is being very generous.” Jessica has been surprised by how quickly Carrie’s Closet has grown. She says she also had not anticipated the extra costs associated with helping girls in need. “We still need to purchase storage for all of the clothes, clothing racks and hangers for thousands of articles of clothing,” she says, “as well as advertising to let the girls know when and where the events will be held.”

Jessica’s goal for 2013 is to raise $5,000 by Dec. 31, which should cover the start-up costs and the first year operation of Carrie’s Closet.  So far, she and her friends have raised $900. “Any contribution will be very much appreciated and will be going to a very good cause,” Jessica adds.

If you have any questions about the organization or about how or where to donate, or if you are able to donate any clothes, purses, shoes or anything that high school girls could use, contact Jessica at 763-688-0386 or by email: Jessicaclair1387@yahoo.com.

If you are unable to donate clothes or money, Jessica says they can always use help setting up for events and picking up donations.

If you are interested in making monetary donations, make checks out to Carrie’s Closet. Stay tuned for collection dates.

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