“How Can I Help?” Are The Sweetest Words

There’s plenty of good news to report from Cathy’s Closet

  • We’ve raised nearly $700 through Crowdrise, a private donation and the proceeds from an iCandy event in April.
  • We have 12 collections scheduled, starting last month actually.
  • Cathy was honored with a posthumous award by the editors of Keystone Alliance/Gaylife Newsletter which will be accepted in her memory at the dedication of the Closet.

But we have a long way to go to raise the $4300 to reach our goal.

Some of you have asked why we need to raise money, why can’t we just accept product donations?

Well, the short answer is because we learned our lesson with the WinterGear Drive (another winner of an award from the Keystone Alliance/Gaylife Newsletter folks.) The success was so overwhelming that the Center was crammed with items in every nook and cranny. And that was true BEFORE the Winter Gear Drive.

Pittsburgh Pride
Well used games for youth programs have a home thanks to donation of gently used shelving.

Don’t get me wrong – everyone pitched in. And I mean everyone. Some of the youth took it upon themselves to fold and sort and set up a nice display on a regular basis. When the clinic staff weren’t seeing patients, they folded. Anyone who dropped-in to socialize was put to work. The interns did their share. People just showed up and started folding. And together we helped thousands of our neighbors between our direct distributions and the items we passed along to other agencies like Shepherd Wellness Center.  The GLCC partners at the Homeless Children’s Education Fund used a portion of an award they won to purchase shelving for the project.


With donated shelving, the GLCC converted a small office into a distribution space for  WinterGear items serving thousands of neighbors.
With donated shelving, the GLCC converted a small office into a distribution space for WinterGear items serving thousands of neighbors.

It was an absolutely wonderful success and a lot of lessons were learned for next winter. And I can’t emphasize enough how critical it was THIS very brutal cold winter to launch this project. Your donations saved lives, saved fingers from frostbite, got people to work safely and kept children a bit more snug.

But we can’t do that again. We need to start off in an organized and orderly manner. This requires some modest renovation to the closet space to make it suitable for this project. We also need to purchase  many storage bins and distribution bags as well as produce the paperwork, PR materials and information necessary to administer the project. One reason is that we will be working even more closely with other groups to routinely send what is needed by their clients. This is a little more complicated than sending bags of clothing.

Pittsburgh Pride
Donations vary in size, scent and ease of use.

And we need to purchase supplies – 70% of the funds raised will go directly to supplies. While we have many collections planned, those are for sustainability – to replenish the goods as the year proceeds. Some are planned out as far as December. We need to head to Costco, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, CVS and Target to buy what is needed on the front end. Serving thousands of people means a lot of bars of soap and bottles of shampoo. We need to have trial sizes for portable convenience for our homeless neighbors. We need bulk sizes so our friends with multiple people in their households don’t have to make multiple trips. We need medium size bottles for some of our elders who can’t lift the heavy one but also don’t want to have to return frequently.

So while we are making progress, the very best way you can help is to donate $25 or $10 or even $5 through Crowdrise (which is a project of Guidestar) or Paypal or even in person. Your direct donation gets the doors to the closet open that much sooner.

You are part of a revolution. We are bringing together the community to push back against poverty and say “Enough!” It is not acceptable that 29% of us were hungry in 2013 for at least one day. Not in Pittsburgh. Not in the United States. Not in our community. We are going to challenge that statistic for 2014 by helping our neighbors conserve their food dollars and have access to items they need for a healthy day-to-day quality of life.

But it absolutely requires your help. Will you click now and make a donation?

You can also send a check payable to the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburg 210 Grant Street Pittsburgh, PA 15219 – please note “Cathy’s Closet” on the check. The GLCC is a 501c3 non-profit organization so your donation is tax-deductible as allowed by the IRS.

Maybe you can organize  a small benefit or fundraiser?

Maybe you can volunteer for this project and apply to your employer for donation to match your volunteer hours?

This project truly is an umbrella reaching over the entire community – L, G, B, T, Q, I, and A – reaching across age groups, interests, geography and more.

It is quite heartening to be on this end of all the engagement as people organize collections and reach out to ask what we need – really, what do our neighbors need. And we are on our way!

If you are planning to donate, thank you. Please know that the sooner we reach our goal, the sooner we can open the closet and begin distributing items.


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