Just Kids will bring affordable used clothing to Powhatan | Today

By Laura McFarland Editor-in-Chief

POWHATAN — When the clothing closet operated by the Woman’s Club of Powhatan closed in mid-2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a lost resource in Powhatan for people on a tight budget who had to dress their family.

Over the months, then more than a year, Sandra Cowles, club member and volunteer at the store, could not help but think of this need that was no longer met locally in the community.

While she couldn’t consider saving the entire concept, Powhatan’s Cowles started thinking about one area where it might be possible to help: children’s clothing.

“After the clothes closet was closed, I started thinking that we should open a closet especially for the kids because I think they’ve been hit the hardest during COVID,” she said.

After months of planning and people stepping up to help, that is exactly what will happen.

On June 7, Just Kids, a boutique selling gently used clothing for children from birth to size 8 will open in the youth building of the May Memorial Baptist Church, located at 3922 Old Buckingham Road.

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The boutique will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and will sell clothes and shoes only for $2 a full bag. Proceeds from the store will be used to purchase special items like winter coats for local families.

Reverend Michael Edwards, senior pastor of May Memorial Baptist Church, said Cowles, who is a member of the church, contacted him in early 2022 with May Memorial’s request to house the store. He was impressed that she presented him not with a concept but with an action plan.

All clothing would be items from consignment stores that did not sell out within a set time frame, which Cowles had already arranged, eliminating the need to constantly ask the public for clothing donations. This also helps to ensure a consistently high quality inventory. However, cash donations are welcome. Eventually they might seek volunteers from the public, but at least initially church members and former Clothes Closet workers volunteered.

“He’s a very detailed person who can see anything from an idea to what’s actually happening,” Edwards said. “Honestly, by the time she brought it to me, she had done a lot of groundwork.”

Edwards and Cowles went to the church’s board of directors, which approved the plan. In April, a team was formed consisting of Cowles, Sophie Edwards, Laura Young, Becky Thomas and Nancy Wood to coordinate the start of the project.

Edwards said he appreciates that it quickly became an intergenerational project, with volunteers ranging from high school to senior citizens stepping up to help by cleaning up the space, building shelves, developing a logo, organizing volunteers, sorting and hanging clothes, etc. Over the weekend, volunteers spent hours sorting through the clothes Cowles picked up to make sure the store had good inventory when it opened.

As Just Kids expands beyond May Memorial to be more of a community effort, Edwards said he’s always happy that so many members have stepped up to help ensure children in the community have quality clothes.

“We believe that our vocation as Christians, what we do in the community is more important than what we do in this building,” he said. “We feel that our Christian faith is lived outside our sanctuary more than inside. Our calling is in our community and we want to be the best church possible for the community.

Cowles has no doubt that Just Kids has the potential to have a very positive impact on the community for families who really need help dressing their children.

“The Just Kids Mission Project is one way to serve those in need. We want to reach those in our community who really need children’s clothing, families who have members who are unemployed, who have health problems, who live on low incomes and children who are in foster care,” she said.

For more information, call the May Memorial Church office at 804-598-3098.

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