Clay County Clothes Closet
3939 N Cleveland Avenue
Kansas City MO 64117
Three of the 40 dedicated volunteers who sort clothes and serve clients.
Mission Statement
Assist in restoring dignity, self-respect, and hope to those families residing in Clay County, MO, where circumstances have denied them basic human needs, such as adequate clothing, through nonjudgmental service by dedicated and committed volunteers.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Debbie M Bigelow
Board Chair Mr. Jaymie Deyo
Board Chair Company Affiliation Volunteer
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1959
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
Assist in restoring dignity, self-respect, and hope to those families residing in Clay County, MO, where circumstances have denied them basic human needs, such as adequate clothing, through nonjudgmental service by dedicated and committed volunteers.
Background Statement
Clay County Clothes Closet, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization was founded in 1959 by the United Church Women of Clay County, MO, and has served continuously since that time.  Staffed solely by volunteers (40 core volunteers currently), our Organization has provided clothing to over 90,000 individuals since its' inception.  Working in close partnership with a number of other organizations which provide needs assessments and referrals, the Clothes Closet offers each individual served the opportunity to select a new wardrobe of clothing appropriate for maintaining their lives in the community.  All program participants receive receive an amount of clothing adequate to sustain them for a one-week period.  What sets Clay County Clothes Closet apart from other like charities is we serve the entire family, from newborn to senior citizen.  Our organization has assisted numerous teens in obtaining community service hours. Volunteers work diligently cleaning, sorting, sizing, shopping, answering calls and emails, and assigning appointments to clients referred to us by schools, churches, hospitals and local social service agencies such as YMCA, Head Start, Salvation Army, Northland Assistance Center, Tri-County Mental Health, Synergy/Safehaven, USCAA, Volunteers work one-on-one with each client, assisting them as they make their own clothing choices. Our organization also serves individuals on an emergency basis such as fire victims, newly unemployed, the homeless, refugees, and those who cannot be released from a hospital without proper clothing.
Impact Statement
Our top three accomplishments from 2017:
  1. Met the clothing needs of 2,392 disadvantaged individuals referred to our Organization, an increase of 131 individuals from 2016 serving statistics.  Of the 2,392 individuals served by our Organization, 1,512 were children 0 - 17 years of age.  Children served by Clay County Clothes Closet received the clothing they needed to empower them to stay in school, focus on their studies and obtain their education.  Adults who were served received the clothing they needed to seek and maintain employment to help stabilize their family's lives.
  2. 100 dedicated volunteers logged 8,942 hours in support of our mission.
  3. In 2017, Clay County Clothes Closet expanded its program into the community by participating in several school and church back-to-school fairs and community resource fairs such as the NKC School District, Liberty Public School and Excelsior Springs School District Back-To School Fairs, Northland Head Start, Parents as Teachers and North Kansas City School District Resource Fairs and Grandfamilies Annual Conference.  By participating in these community activities, CCCC was able to use its' electronic scheduling system to capture client information and secure on-the spot appointments for children and their families. This approach made it possible for Clay County Clothes Closet to reach 350 unserved children in the community and made it easier for impoverished families with limited transportation to obtain an appointment to receive the clothing they need to maintain their lives in the community.   
  4. Developed new business partnerships in 2017 through a new membership in the Gladstone Area Chamber of Commerce and participation in a BNI Group which led to increases in monetary funding, in-kind new clothing donations and fundraising event support.
  5. 2017 income from foundations, fundraising, business, service organizations, churches and individuals exceeded annual operating budget goal and income exceeded expenses.
Our top five goals for 2017:
  1. Meet the clothing needs of all individuals referred to our Organization. 
  2. Increase the diversity of our governing board as terms end and vacant positions are filled.
  3. Expand our visibility and accessibility to those in our community.
  4. Expand services to reach the over 5,000 Clay County children and their families living in poverty, who were not reached for service in 2016.
  5. Develop relationships with new foundations and donors.
Needs Statement
The top five needs at Clay County Clothes Closet are:
  1. Financial support
  2. Foundation and business partnerships
  3. In-kind donations of new undergarments and socks to meet the needs of program participants
  4. Saturday volunteers to assist clients with clothing selections
  5. Volunteers with web management and grant writing expertise
Service Categories
Human Services
Areas of Service
MO - Clay County
Clay County Clothes Closet serves individuals residing in Clay County, Missouri, with the exception being individuals referred on an emergency basis such as loss due to fire, immediate loss of job or fleeing domestic violence.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
My name is Debbie Bigelow, and I am honored to serve in the capacity as Executive Director of Clay County Clothes Closet, a charity that has clothed over 90,000 individuals in need since its' inception in 1959.  The organization's mission remains the same today as it was 59 years ago, to help restore dignity, self-respect, and hope to families residing in Clay County, Missouri where circumstances have denied them basic human needs, such as adequate clothing, through non-judgmental service by dedicated and committed volunteers.  Below I have outlined some of the successes Clay County Clothes Closet celebrates and the challenges it faces. 
  1. Met the clothing needs of the increasing number of low-income families and individuals referred to our Organization.  In 2017 our Organization served 2,392 individuals, an increase of 131 individuals from 2016 serving statistics.
  2. Saturday Serving Schedule meeting the needs of low income families and individuals who are unable to take time away from their jobs, have limited transportation, and families who will not take their children out of school to receive needed clothing. Statistics documented per survey input.
  3. Newly updated website with a focus on streamlining the appointment process for our referring agencies.
  4. Exceeded our operating budget income projection by building new funding community partnerships, coordinating successful fundraising events and seeking new grant funding opportunities. 
  5. Increased in-kind donations by new community partners, allowed our Organization the means to increase our total clothing items distributed in 2017.
  6. Organization visibility increased by participation in school fairs, county resource meetings, and broadened communications via Facebook, Twitter and community speaking engagements. 
  7. Increased diversity among Board Members. 
Challenges facing our Organization:
  1. Continue to meet the needs of all individuals referred to our Organization for clothing assistance.  Since 2014, Clay County Clothes Closet has served a 10 - 15% increase in individuals yearly.  Based on the influx of refugees and low-income individuals migrating to Clay County from the inner city core, the number of individuals needing clothing assistance is projected to continue increasing. 
  2. Increasing competition for sustainable grant funding. 
  3. Aging population of volunteers.
  4. Staffing expanded scheduling.
Below is a personal story of a young boy served as shared by Tom Kincaid, Clay County Clothes Closet volunteer and former Board Member.

It was a cold February morning at the Clay County Clothes Closet when Ahmed and his family arrived seeking some new clothes. I went into the reception room, called his name and took him back into the room where we outfit clients with new shoes. Ahmed was a high school student and it soon became obvious to me, a retired teacher trained in special education, that he was a special needs student.

Ahmed didn't know his shoe size so I had him sit down and remove one of his shoes in order to ascertain the size from the tag on the shoe tongue. I couldn't believe it when he pulled off his shoe and I realized that in this cold he was not wearing socks! So, first thing I did was get him a bundle of socks and extracted a pair for him. It didn't take Ahmed long to find a pair of athletic shoes that he liked and put a smile on his face as he walked around the room trying out his new shoes.

Sadly, volunteers at the Clay County Clothes Closet see this scenario all too often. I wish all who give, by their generous donations to the Clay County Clothes Closet, could also see the smiles their sharing provides to the children we serve.


Working in close partnership with other organizations which provide needs assessments and referrals, CCCC offers each individual served the opportunity to select a new wardrobe of clothing appropriate for maintaining their lives in the community.  All program participants receive an amount of clothing adequate to sustain them for a one-week period.  All individuals served receive new underwear and socks.  Children also receive new jeans, new shirts, new coat, new shoes and all participants receive a variety of gently used clothing to complete their wardrobe.  What sets our program apart from others in our Community is we serve the entire family from newborn to senior citizen.  Each program participant is greeted by a kind, committed member of our CCCC Volunteer Team who is well acquainted with the clothing available for their size and gender. The volunteer assists the client in selecting clothing that fits properly and meets their needs for school, play, work and community activities. 

Program Budget $69,120.00
Category Human Services, General/Other Human Services, General/Other
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent, ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
Teachers and Social Workers state that dressing more like their peers improves a child’s attendance, improves their grades, and allows for a more successful educational experience. Adults are more confidant and self-assured when seeking employment with the proper clothing. Weary refugees, who come to be served at Clay County Clothes Closet, sometimes with only the clothes they are wearing, find not only the clothes they are in desperate need of, but love and acceptance in a new country. Our veterans and elderly receive the assistance and respect they deserve.
Long-Term Success
According to Psychology Today, "our clothes make a huge difference to what people think about us - and without us knowing or in ways we couldn't even imagine.  People make their assessments in the first few seconds of seeing another.  In fact, research with over 300 adults (men and women) showed that people looked at images of a man and a woman for just 3 seconds before making 'snap judgments' about them.  So our clothes say a great deal about who we are and can signal a great deal of socially important things to others, even if the impression is actually unfounded.  Research suggests that these impressions about us can even start in childhood - one study found that teachers made assumptions about children's academic ability based on their clothing."  Clay County Clothes Closet strengthens our community by providing individuals served by our Program adequate clothing for personal requirements - work, school, job seekers and everyday clothes, helping give them the confidence they need to be successful in life.    
Program Success Monitored By
Our Program success is seen on the faces of those who look to us to provide clothing, and by the gratitude expressed by them vocally, many times accompanied with tears of thankfulness, and relief.
Schools, Agencies and individuals often send letters of appreciation documenting how the new clothing has helped to change their lives. These correspondences verify to our Organization that the generous contributions of donors, and committed work done by our volunteers, are beneficial to the community.  Helping to make life better for this population also helps strengthen our community. Many Program recipients return to Clay County Clothes Closet to give back by donating their time and resources once their lives are stabilized.
Examples of Program Success
Clay County Clothes Closet serves over 2,000 individuals each year in Clay County who otherwise may not have proper clothing. A former Chairman of the Clay County Clothes Closet Board, at the age of 7, came to The Clothes Closet with her brothers as they were in need of clothes to begin the school year.  Gina remembers coming home with sacks of new and used clothes, it was like she had just been to her very own mall and she would now have clothes for school.  This story not only illustrates the Clothes Closet's long history of serving those in need, but also illuminates the confidence and hope that can come to the person whose needs are met.  Gina went to school that year and many following years achieving her education and empowered leadership abilities.  Gina's past service on the Board of Directors is a living example of the receiver, who received graciously, becoming the giver who graciously gives back.

Clay County Social Services Agencies, multiple area school districts and Northland Community churches partner with our Organization by bringing awareness of our free clothing resource to low-income families and individuals.  The organization partners with area school districts in their "Back to School Fairs", where information about our resource is distributed and on-site appointments are made for the low-income families in attendance.  Area churches partner to assist in meeting The Clothes Closet's need for underwear and socks by hosting "Undie Sundays".  Area schools and businesses host clothing drives to assist in providing the Clothes Closet with new and gently used clothing.  Area Service Groups, such as Rotary Clubs, relay the Clothes Closet's story of serving low income families and individuals via media publications during community events such as the KC Royals Day.

Category Human Services, General/Other Human Services, General/Other
Population Served Families, ,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success  Disadvantaged families in our Community become aware of resources that are available to assist them. Donors and volunteers are made aware of an important way to respond to a critical need in the community.
Long-Term Success The long term success of the community outreach program can be seen in the ever growing number of community partners participating in clothing low income individuals through participation in the Clothes Closet programs. This includes churches, schools, businesses and community organizations hosting clothing drives and fundraisers for the benefit of Clothes Closet clients. It can also be tracked by examining the places new volunteers say they first learned of the organization's work. 
Program Success Monitored By  The large number of children and families who are served during these fairs, the large number of social service agencies and organizations that participate and the businesses who donate their service and/or money to support this effort. 
Examples of Program Success 750 children served in the previous Clay County Back To School Fair.
CEO Comments One of the challenges the Clothes Closet has faced in the past year was a growing concern that while the number of refugee families needing clothing assistance has increased in recent years, school social workers were reporting that they could not convince parents that this was a legitimate reason to take their children out of school. Education for these families was so important that they wouldn't sacrifice precious class time to make a week day appointment. Other low wage families could not afford to take time off work to come to get clothes. Many families have transportation issues and did not have access to a car during the week. In response to these very real issues for those served, the Clothes Closet has begun serving clients one Saturday a month. These additional hours have been quickly scheduled with families who need assistance, but are working very hard to be self-sufficient.  It has been very satisfying to help these strong, hard-working families.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Debbie M Bigelow
Term Start Jan 2015
Compensation N/A

A native of Kansas City, I grew up and attended primary and secondary schools in the Northland Area with an emphasis on Office Management skills.

My husband and I raised two sons and I was a very active Mom involved with all aspects of their schooling and extra-curricular activities. I lovingly refer to that time as “The best time of my life” as it was a great privilege to nurture and provide guidance to assist them on their path to adulthood.

Managing my role of Mom with my workplace role demanded that I become proficient at honing my organizational skills in order to succeed at both. The majority of my time in the workplace was spent as a Business Administrator in the Power Generation Sector of a large corporation. As such, I was tasked to manage all aspects of the project paperwork flow from contract review to account collections. My position required I be detail oriented as well as adept at interfacing on multiple levels with the clients we served. These skill sets have been invaluable in my new role as Executive Director of The Clay County Clothes Closet. Also, serving in a leadership role on my Church’s Executive Board has brought me understanding of board proceedings, helping me to be effective in my new position.

When I retired from the workforce, I knew that giving back to the Community was where I wanted to focus my energies. Through my involvement in outreach opportunities in my church, I became aware of how The Clay County Clothes Closet was helping disadvantaged families in the Northland by providing them with free clothing. I also learned that “The Closet” was located and served families in the neighborhood where I grew up, another reason for me to join their mission.

After my initial opportunity to serve the children who came to The Clay County Clothes Closet, I knew this is where I wanted to focus a majority of my volunteering efforts. Watching a smile develop on a child’s face when they look in the mirror to view their clothing selections is priceless. Assisting the families we serve in restoring dignity, self-respect and hope is a great privilege and I am very thankful and blessed to be a part of this very dedicated, caring team of volunteers!

Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year N/A
Current Compensation N/A
Former CEOs
Ms. Carolyn Kelsey -
Paid Full-Time Staff 0
Paid Part-Time Staff 0
Volunteers 100
Paid Contractors 0
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
Caucasian 10
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 7
Male 3
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
The following agencies refer their clients that are in need of clothing to the Clothes Closet for service:  Children's Mercy Hospital, Clay County Juvenile Office, Clay County schools, churches and hospitals, Easter Seals Midwest, Excelsior Springs Headstart, Family Promise of the Northland, First Steps,  Good Samaritan, Hands of Hope, Hillcrest Ministries, Healthy Families,  Hope House, In As Much Ministries, Job Corps, Liberty Housing Authority, Lincworks, Love, Inc., Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Northland Assistance Center, Northland Community Center, Northland Headstart, Parents as Teachers,  Salvation Army, Skylander Psychological Services, Synergy Services/Safe Haven, The Family Conservancy, Triality, Tri-County Mental Health, United Services Community Action Agency, United Way, YMCA, Grandfamilies.
Clay County Clothes Closet partners with LINC Site Counsel to reach children in Title 1 schools.  Through our Organization's membership with Clay County Resource Group, we network with colleagues in the social services field and share our resources with other agencies in Clay County and learn about programs which could assist those we serve.
Chamber of Commerce2017
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments

Like many organizations that utilize large numbers of volunteers the Clay County Clothes Closet is challenged by an aging volunteer force and changing demographics and expectations of younger volunteers. While continuing to value the gifts and wisdom of volunteers who have served faithfully for decades (some more than 50 years) Clay County Clothes Closet is continually seeking new volunteers to join the ranks. The computerization of systems and the addition of Saturday service hours have drawn younger volunteers with specific technology skills and some who work during weekdays to join the program. Many of our volunteers come in groups for special projects. This ever changing all volunteer staff is dedicated to the mission and is energized by the thankful response of those served. As the Northland has become increasingly diverse, especially with the influx of refugees from around the world, the needs and desires for clothing that they are comfortable in and feels culturally appropriate to them is changing. Our volunteers have worked hard to learn about cultural and religious expectations of each person and to make each one feel respected and cared for. This culture of caring for each individual served gives both volunteers and clients an amazing opportunity to expand their knowledge of those who live in our community.

Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Jaymie Deyo
Company Affiliation Volunteer
Term Jan 2016 to Dec 2018
Board Members
Ms. Debbie Bigelow Retired, Project Mgr.-ERS-Div. of Emerson
Mr. Jaymie Deyo Community Volunteer
Ms. Marty Hill Art Instructor, Self-Employed
Ms. Carolyn Kelsey Community Volunteer
Mr. Gary Lint Retired
Ms. Krista Lopez Synergy Services
Ms. Heide McCleery Retired Teacher
Ms. Jan McSpadden Park Hill School District
Mr. Stephen Mills Retired
Ms. Gail Snyder Retired, Registered Nurse
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 10
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Community Outreach / Community Relations
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $68,400
Projected Expenses $68,400
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2016, 2015, 2014: Financial data reported using the organization's IRS Form 990-EZ.
  • Foundations/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$46,594$31,424$27,951
Administration Expense$14,529$15,742$18,336
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.892.241.06
Program Expense/Total Expenses76%67%64%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$351,617$358,703$300,535
Current Assets$87,894$94,964$36,796
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$358$0$0
Total Net Assets$351,259$358,703$300,535
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities245.51----
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountUnited Way $6,000 --United Way $9,354
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountHarvest Ball $5,000 --Harvest Ball $7,500
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountIrven E. & Nevada Linscomb Foundation $5,000 --Hallmark Foundation $2,500
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments
2017 was a successful year for our Organization and those we serve.  With a budget shortfall in 2016, Clothes Closet Volunteer Staff worked diligently to meet and ultimately exceed our 2017 budget income goals by implementation of the following: Seeking out additional grant funding sources, Developing Business Partnerships through a new Gladstone Area Chamber of Commerce membership, Community Visibility Initiative through hosting of a 2017 Gladstone Chamber Ribbon Cutting and Open House Event which was well-attended and included community officials and local news media, participated in several speaking engagements to educate the community on our program and its' needs and (3) successful fundraisers:  Community Garage Sale, Pancake Breakfast/Silent Auction Event and  Facebook Giving Tuesday Challenge.  In 2018, networking within the community is at the top of each CCCC Board Member's agenda.  Fostering relationships with area businesses, service organizations, churches and key community leaders will help Clay County Clothes Closet meet and exceed our budget requirements.
Organization Name Clay County Clothes Closet
Address 3939 N Cleveland Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64117
Primary Phone (816) 454-3960
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Debbie M Bigelow
Board Chair Mr. Jaymie Deyo
Board Chair Company Affiliation Volunteer
Year of Incorporation 1959