A new clothing closet in Covington is offering the hope of a second chance for many in the Alleghany Highlands.

The Second Chance Clothing Closet has been established at the TAP (Total Action for Progress) offices in Covington to provide clothing for area residents in need. The closet opened in mid-November.

The initiative began primarily as an endeavor to provide business clothing and suits for clients of TAP’s Virginia CARES (Community Action Re-entry System), a program that helps ex-offenders  transition back into the community.

According to Angie Campbell, chairman of the local TAP Board of Commissioners, the clothing closet began with suits from Men’s Warehouse in Roanoke which were being utilized in the CARES program. James Wall oversees Virginia CARES.

“James and I sat down one day and were talking, and I thought: ‘Wouldn’t this be great if we grow it into something bigger for the community’,” recalled Campbell. She later approached the board with the idea of expanding the closet.

“The board was ‘on board’ with it,” she said.

Campbell added that she approached her friend Sarah Burnette about the idea.

“(Sarah) was excited about it,” explained Campbell. “She has a heart for community like I do, and one thing led to another and she’s become the clothing closet manager.”

Campbell and  Burnette also recognized local company Balchem for their efforts in assisting with the program. Several Balchem employees recently renovated and remodeled the clothing closet room. 

“We cannot express the gratitude and appreciation we have for Balchem’s collaboration and work on Second Chance,” said Burnette. “We could not serve the amount or variety of people we serve without the generosity and hard work of Balchem and their four executives who remodeled our closet.”

Burnette explained that  the name Second Chance was derived from a contest held by Balchem to name the clothing closet.

“Second Chance is more than just for the clothes which maybe they would have ended up in a landfill,” Burnette said. “So not only are the clothes getting a second chance, but so are the people.”

In addition to serving former offenders, Second Chance also helps victims of domestic violence, as well as those living near or below the poverty line who struggle with attaining adequate seasonal clothing.

“We have something here for everybody; we don’t discriminate with any factors,” Burnette continued. “If you have a need, we have something here for you. We have men’s clothes, we have women’s clothes, children’s clothes, infant’s clothes.

“This is a way to increase people’s hope,” she added. “Second Chance gives people a second chance. When you’re coming out of incarceration, even if you’re someone in the community that needs clothes for an interview, you need to look the part.

“We give people the opportunity to be able to look that part and to maybe get gainful employment which would give them a second chance.

“I feel like Second Chance screams ‘hope,’” Burnette concluded.

Second Chance Clothing Closet is located at the TAP offices at 118 S. Lexington Ave. in Covington. The closet is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and by appointment. 

Clients may visit and shop at Second Chance one time per month per household by appointment only. Each household member has an allotted number of items allowed which can vary depending on item availability. Each client must sign in and Second Chance records the items taken.

Occasionally, Second Chance will have bag days when inventory allows. Bag days will not be counted as the monthly visit.

To make an appointment, or to donate clothing, call (540) 460-8811 or (540) 969-9688.

-------------------------------------------------------------

The Second Chance Clothing Closet has opened up at the TAP (Total Action for Progress) offices at 118 S. Lexington Ave. in Covington. From left are Sarah Burnette, closet manager; and Angie Campbell, chairman of the local TAP Board of Commissioners. (Gavin Dressler Photo)