Samaritan Clothing Store Closing

by Cricket Holland
GETTING READY: Collecting food items for the upcoming Dec. 17, Christmas Food Box Distribution are Scott Dittner and Paula Belcher. Dittner serves as president of the Samaritans and Belcher is a member-at-large. Photo Submitted by Cricket Holland GETTING READY: Collecting food items for the upcoming Dec. 17, Christmas Food Box Distribution are Scott Dittner and Paula Belcher. Dittner serves as president of the Samaritans and Belcher is a member-at-large. Photo Submitted by Cricket Holland

Food Pantry, and other services to remain available

After 40-plus years, the Marlow Samaritans Clothing Store closed its doors on Nov. 8, but will offer folks an opportunity to do their final shopping the first week in January. At that time folks will be welcome to visit the agency and take clothing items for their families. (The actual date will be released later.)

We are emphasizing that only the clothing portion of the agency is being closed. All other aspects will continue. Anyone who finds themselves in an emergency situation, needing help with non-narcotic prescriptions, or food for their families will still be able to receive help. Again, only the clothing store is closing.

The reason the clothing store is being closed is in preparation for expanding the Food Bank section of the agency. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma has given The Marlow Samaritans a grant that will enable the non-profit agency to expand its food pantry as well as offer clients the opportunity to shop for the foods their families enjoy.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area, the Samaritans wanted to continue their food pantry and because of strict restrictions began offering clients a “drive-thru” process of picking up their monthly food boxes. And it has worked well for everyone involved.

What we’ve discovered is that some of the items given out are returned during food drives. This tells us that people are getting items in their boxes their families just don’t like which is not cost-efficient for the agency nor helpful for them.

Now that COVID numbers are greatly reduced, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is once again encouraging pantries to begin client selection shopping.

“We are excited about the opportunity to enlarge the food pantry. It’s something we have desired to accomplish for a while now. More storage space is needed in order to add fresh fruit and produce sections, a better selection of foods that require refrigeration or freezing, and other more nutritious choices for meal preparations. Our desire is to make sure no one in Marlow goes hungry,” said Carolyn Lowe, Agency Director for the Regional Food Bank and Samaritans.

“We will continue the drive-thru method of delivery until the remodeling has been completed,” she added. “Then for a period of time, clients will be given a choice of shopping or the drive-through process until we are able to extend the hours of shopping.

“We want to be available to families; especially where both parents work and can’t come during our specified times now,” Mrs. Lowe said.

As to the decision to close the clothing store, it was not an easy one to make. As a board member, I will try to help everyone understand what was discussed during our last meeting.

“The board met and after looking over monthly reports, which indicated how many families actually utilize the clothing portion, we discovered it to be a small number.

“Over the last several months, we averaged about 10-12 clients coming in to shop on the days we were open. What we learned is that 75 to 80% of these folks are return shoppers. In other words, they are coming every time the store is open.

“Our community has gone above and beyond in supplying us with gently used clothing, but we simply didn’t feel it is something we need to continue.

“We had transitioned to newborn through youth clothing a couple years ago and our abundance of clothing is just not going out of the door. Our plan is to contact several organizations who have clothing facilities and ask if they would be interested in taking clothing items.

“We are also going to contact Charis Pregnancy Center and ask if they would be interested in our newborn and infant clothing and accessory items. We have two area churches that handle children’s clothing that we will contact and the Methodist Church has a Blessings House that can hopefully take some articles of clothing.

“The donation box, located at the back of the Samaritans Building, has been permanently sealed up. We are asking people to please take their clothing and other articles they wish to donate to another facility. (Please do not continue to leave bags at the back doors. Help us spread the word by telling your friends and neighbors that donations are no longer being accepted.)

“We truly appreciate the support we have had in providing clothing for our community and hope that folks will continue to take their gently used items to another agency. We will be glad to share names of those places.

Writing this article has brought to mind (again) how much our community has and continues to help The Marlow Samaritans. In fact, we could not continue without the generosity you provide through donations and your willingness to volunteer. We want you to know that our (your) food bank is one of the top pantries in the State of Oklahoma. That’s made possible because of the financial help each of you give and having the opportunity to purchase much-needed food items from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Thank You Marlow for “Helping Us Help Others.” We are living in a time of great need for families and that’s when we as a community step up to the plate and hit a home run when it comes to taking care of others.

I want to stress that only the clothing store is closing. All other facets of the Marlow Samaritans, a United Way Agency, will continue helping in emergency situations. We provide forms that can be filled out for such times. They are located at the front of our building (214 West Main) in a black mailbox. Simply take one slip, fill it out and return through the slot near the door. A volunteer will call you either on a Monday or Friday. The local number for the Marlow Samaritans is 580-658-5771.

Brothers Barista