The Robes of Righteousness community clothing closet was established in early 2016 as a means to effectively distribute the large volume of clothing donations that Restore receives to those in need. Restore has a large support network of people who donate clothes, but through the years we have lacked the capacity to effectively distribute these donations. The underlying purpose of Robes of Righteousness is to aid in restoring dignity and worth in the residents of downtown Stockton through high-quality clothing donations. There are many donation centers in our area, yet most of them miss the heart of the people by focusing on external needs instead of internal ones. People who are struggling with poverty do need food and clothes, but oftentimes the free items they receive are better suited to the garbage than to human beings. The state of the items passed out communicates a message, and when people are consistently given leftover and unwanted items, the message they instinctively understand is that they possess a lesser worth than others. Robes of Righteousness seeks to meet people’s basic needs at the level of the heart first and foremost - in the context of meaningful relationships that empower people by speaking to their dignity and worth, clothing donations can communicate to people living in poverty that they are valuable and loved. Our neighbors and especially the youth in our programs need clothes and shoes, but more than that, they need to know their worth and have dignity restored. Robes of Righteousness is a space where people can come get their basic needs met in a relational context, and in doing so recover the dignity they have lost in the poverty culture.
Our desire is to connect those who have a passion to give to those who are in need, and for this to provide spiritual care as well as physical care. This empowers those who donate clothes or supplies to be a part of something much larger and more impactful than simply a thrift-store drop-off. Robes of Righteousness has a boutique atmosphere where people can come and shop for free and receive clothing as well as a sense of their inherent dignity. We also provide simple hygiene and beauty necessities for people who come to the closet. The vision for the closet has two levels of engagement. First of all, there will be those who pass through once and receive the basic care of getting clothing or hygiene products. Second, there will be those who we interact with regularly (such as the youth in our mentoring program and families from local churches) who will play a more involved role. Through working in the clothing closet, Restore will be able to offer job training and experience for youth who are seeking employment in the retail industry. The Robes of Righteousness volunteers will be able to teach necessary skills to people in our community who desire to move out of poverty. Furthermore, there is potential to teach classes to impoverished mothers and families about clothing hygiene and laundry, which will overall improve their quality of life and health. The Robes of Righteousness clothing closet provides a bridge for those who have been blessed with material and spiritual wealth to engage, empower, and equip the less fortunate with the goal of restoring their inherent dignity and worth.