ELK, Wash. - This the season to give rather than receive. A clothing bank in Elk, WA has been giving back to the community for years, but this holiday season God's Closet needs some help of its own.
Elk is one of the poorer communities in Spokane County. It's a place where people don't have much, especially around the holidays. For the past 12 years, God's Closet has been a gift to the community.
On a bitterly cold Wednesday, Karen Erickson, founder of God's Closet, knows what KXLY's deliver of dozens of Coats 4 Kids means.
"I can't thank Kris Crocker enough for sharing her coats with me," Erickson said.
She recently had to turn two coat-less children away.
"The little boy said, 'I'm ok. I have snow pants on.' But they didn't have coats and I didn't have any to give them," she said. "And this will be such a blessing."
Erickson says God's Closet started as a fluke in 2004, when she brought clothes that didn't fit to church.
"To see if some of the other ladies would like them, and pretty soon they were bringing clothes," she explained.
What started as a hallway, turned into a room, and now, a basement full of donations for those in need. Erickson and her volunteers help more than 200 people every month.
"I've had people in holey t-shirts and a pair of pants with shoes glued together wanting a pair of shoes. [They] walked out with flannel shirts, pairs of pants and boots. And as they go up the stairs, they're crying. That's why I do it. That's why it's here, for the people that need it," Erickson said.
God's Closet isn't just a storefront. On Saturday, they're hosting their "Kids Shopping for Moms and Dads"event. More than 30 volunteers will set up a "shop" where children can pick out presents for their parents, then wrap their gifts themselves. It'll be hosted at the Elk Community Church at 40116 N. Elk-Camden Road from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. They ask that only kids from the Elk, Chattaroy and surrounding communities attend or they'll run out of presents.
But the future of God's Closet is unknown. It's bursting at the seams in the basement of The Inland Grange. And after breathing in dust and clothing fiber for more than a decade, Erickson has developed breathing problems.
"I've had two doctors tell me that I shouldn't be down here anymore," she said.
Now the goal is to get God's Closet above ground into a home of its own.
"I may not be able to come for awhile or I may not be able to come back at all, but I would love someone to step in and take over," Erickson said.
She has a location in mind, but still needs donations to build. Erickson is also hoping someone has a space to donate.
"The miracles that we see and the blessings of the people and me and my staff, I don't want it to end."