Those needing clothes and household items can now browse through the collection of Clothes2U charity as the organization is back with its latest distribution event in Langley.
Founder Ernie Jantzen and volunteers will set the stage on Feb. 5 for their first event of the year to provide free clothes, toys, and more to those in need. Clothes for babies and adults, toys, linens, and small household items will be available for people.
Because of COVID, the demand has risen. Jantzen said he received “tons” of messages within 24-hour of posting the event details on Facebook.
“So much not allowed during COVID. A lot of people were hit quite a bit financially as they were off work for long,” he commented.
Clothes2U was launched in 2002 through the efforts of the now-retired marketing professional, who used his skills to grow a not-for-profit brand. Jantzen organized the event and expanded the charity organization’s presence – doing events in Surrey, Mission, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack.
His marketing experience helped him spread the word and get donations from community members and small businesses. Once the donations were received, Jantzen categorized them based on sizes before loading them into his van, which he decorated with a Clothes2U brand decal.
He even created a website on his own for the charity.
“It is quite a bit a one man show, but I always try to keep it growing,” he said.
Each year, Jantzen organizes two donation drives and this time, he approached his long-time partners – Nicomekl Elementary School in Langley – after two years.
Due to COVID-related restrictions, the school couldn’t allow Jantzen to use the space. Jantzen said he is happy to invite everyone to the school, the location he used 19 years ago for the first event.
People will be charged $2 entrance fee, which would allow them to take as many items as they want. Kids under 10 can get in free of charge.
The entrance fee helps Jantzen cover a portion of the administration, fuel and website maintenance costs.
“It takes money to run an organization, and a lot of my personal funds are invested in it,” he added.
Started as a one-person show, Clothes2U now sees participation from multiple volunteers at every event. He has four volunteers for the setup night and two for the event day this year.
“I need a couple more for the setup night and several more for the event day,” he said.
Jantzen also helps the Aldergrove Food Bank once every week.
“When I started Clothes2U, I had no idea it would amount to anything of significance. I fully expected to do it once or twice and then that would be it,” he commented. “However, things didn’t work out that way so I got with the program and worked hard to build it up, more cities, and from just clothes at the beginning to clothes, toys, linens, diapers, books, personal and smaller household items.”
Jantzen said he loves what he does, and it is rewarding for him to see his efforts make a difference in people’s lives. He now wants to grow his organization and pass on the skills so that others interested can start their own Clothes2U in their own communities.
The Feb. 5 event will start at 10 a.m. in Nicomekl Elementary School on 53rd Avenue and 200th Street. For more details regarding the event, people can visit clothes2u.ca or call Jantzen at 604-857-4617.
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