New Clothes Attract Crowd At Katrina's Closet

It's called "Katrina's Closet." Since shortly after the hurricane, the big white tent at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum has been a clearing house for truck loads of donated clothing.

There were a few changes at the tent Thursday. A shipment of brand new clothes not only attracted a crowd, it prompted some new rules.

"We had to change some of our policies because of some of the things that are going on," Ginny Russum shouted outside the charity tent.

The line outside the tent looked a lot like anxious shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.

"You will only be allowed to take three items, per person, per household," Russum told the crowd.

Shoppers grabbed a bag, signed in and headed for the clothing racks.

"Let's find a 20. Here's a 20-W," said a volunteer, helping someone find the right size.

Veronica Batton was first in line this chilly late October morning. Like so many, she's grateful for this ongoing outreach.

"It's nice. Nice for people to care about people," said the St. Martin resident.

The rush for the new clothing is evident. Stacks of blue jeans and shirts attract most of the crowd. The used clothing side of the tent, was much less busy.

Putting limitations on the new clothing may seem harsh to some, but organizers of Katrina's Closet say such restrictions are necessary. While there is certainly a great amount of need, there are also scattered examples of greed.

"We felt like there were people that were coming that didn't have a need. So it got just out of hand," said Russum.

Volunteers like Peggy Hise are the heart of Katrina's Closet. She sees the grateful smiles every day.

"We get people thanking us every day for doing this. And it makes you feel good that you've come out and done it," said Hise.

"A lot of people are getting the clothes that need it. The people that lost everything. They're coming down here every day," said Russum.

"Katrina's Closet" will remain open indefinitely. She expects another wave of need, once everyone moves out of the shelters and tents, and has room for some clothes.