Local nonprofit that helps teens just quadrupled its reach

The nonprofit First Teen Clothes Closet donates clothing to teenagers in need.

For six years First Teen Clothes Closet operated out of First Lutheran Church in Onalaska.

That all changed when it moved into Trinity Lutheran Church in La Crosse to reach more people.

First Teen Clothes Closet is now directly above Children’s Clothes Closet, at its new location on Sill Street, and both organizations say it’s a win-win for everyone.

“We want to give them clothes they feel good in,”

Shari Hegland has been working with teen closet for four years.

“I enjoy seeing them find things that they really like. You know, watching a girl pull a dress out and her eyes light up because it’s just right for her,” Hegland said.

She said that, in order for teens to be comfortable in their own skin they have to first be comfortable in their own clothes.

“If we can take those worries away from them and let them concentrate on doing their job as a student that just helps out, I think” Hegland said.

Since moving to Trinity Lutheran Church the organization has grown rapidly.

“We’ve had six nights that we’ve been open here at Trinity and we’ve served close to 100 teens. That’s about what we would have served in six months in our previous location,” Hegland said.

The process for teens to get clothing at their new location is simple.

“There will be volunteers who will direct children and their parents downstairs. First Teen Clothes Closet is located upstairs, where teens can come and shop on their own. When teens arrive, they’ll get a laundry basket with some guidelines for the items they can choose, and then they can start to shop,” Hegland said.

In addition to providing casual clothing First Teen Clothes Closet also helps young adults get dressed for job interviews.

“We can set you up with a shirt and, a tie and if we have the right volunteers, we’ll even teach you how to tie it,” Hegland said.

Bill Schilla, who works with Children’s Clothes Closet downstairs, saidit’s great having both organizations in the same building.

“I think La Crosse itself is doing a great job in helping people and I think this is just a part of that whole helping others,” Schilla said.

There’s another benefit to being in the same location.

“Makes this a one-stop shop in a lot of ways. Families can come. They can get their children’s clothing. The teens can go upstairs and shop here, and there is a meal served as well,” Hegland said.

First Teen Clothes Closet is open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Children’s Clothes Closet is also open during that time and, the church provides meals Monday evenings as well.

If you would like to donate to the First Teen Clothes Closet, y ou can drop off your clothing items at their old location at First Lutheran Church in Onalaska.