Carl Koester and his wife Beverly are co-directors of the Adventist Community Services Center’s clothing bank in Brunswick, which was forced to close during the pandemic but offers items curbside to those with urgent needs. Courtesy Beverly Koester

BRUNSWICK — Although forced by the coronavirus pandemic to close its doors, the Adventist Community Services Center’s clothing bank is now providing items curbside outside its 1 Tenney Way headquarters to those with urgent needs.

Beverly Koester, co-director of the center – also known as The Free Store – with her husband, Carl Koester, hopes that as state restrictions ease, the clothing bank could reopen before the end of this month. Once she has an official reopening date, the Koesters will put up signs and post the information to brunswicksdachurch.org/Information/community-services.

In the meantime, those with immediate needs can leave a message with the bank at 725-7015 or email [email protected].

The bank’s “purpose for being is to help people who have … clothing and household needs,” as it has been doing since 1962, Beverly Koester said. “Although we serve a large population, we’re very concerned about the population who’s finding themselves in an emergency situation without any clothing. So we were eager to serve them.”

According to information the bank posted at hope4.fundly.com/thefreestore-brunswickmaine, where it aimed to raise money for repairs to the building, the organization provides “free clothing, shoes and housewares” to those in need. Before the pandemic, more than 1,600 items went to more than 100 families each week, and donors have kept the bank well stocked.

About one to two people have been served a week during the pandemic, Koester said.

While items are free, clients are encouraged to give a $1 donation each time they visit, to help with the operation’s overhead.

A crew of about 25 volunteers maintain the buildings and its grounds, empty the donation bin, sort and hang items, and assist customers, logging more than 140 hours weekly.

“We’re trying to figure out how to serve the community, even though we have to be closed to the general public,” said Alice Cunningham Spindler, one of those volunteers. “It’s a difficult journey.”

Since it is closed and has limited space for storage, the bank cannot accept donations until it has reopened, Koester said. Acceptable items are clean and usable, and are those donors would be willing to wear themselves, she said.

Having received many queries about when the bank is collecting again, Koester has no concerns about maintaining supplies against demand.

“We have to get it out of there as fast as it comes in, to make room,” she said. “The community has supported us very well.”

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