Community Closet – An Emerging Need

Friends of Cozumel is continuing to focus on basic necessities of food, prescription medications, baby formula and ecological diapers as well as supporting the third generation (seniors) and those with special needs. 

Families are also requesting support for these emerging needs: 

  • Clothing, shoes, home goods—to fit growing children and/or replace home items
  • Hygiene products—shampoo, toothpaste, antibacterial gel/soap, feminine products
  • Purified drinking water to stay healthy 

The initial “Armario Comunitario” (Community Closet) held February 1-2 as a pilot project was so successful that we have opened a temporary location (preview here) to continue addressing the first two emerging needs above of clothing/shoes, home goods and hygiene products.  It is open at least once a week by appointment only.  We enforce covid protocols (masks required, limit of two representatives per family over age 12, temperatures taken and antibacterial gel at entry, only 8 families invited per hour to ensure social distance).

Pilot project Feb 1-2 held at Vida Abundante Church
Pilot project held Feb 1-2 at Vida Abundante Church

The Community Closet is different than Gran Bazars we hosted in past years. It is by invitation only (not open to the public) for families who have all been vetted (identified as low resource families).  Families receive credit coupons ($100, $200 or $300 pesos; approximately $5-$15USD) based on the number of people in the family.  They can purchase addition items if they wish.  The goal is to provide families the opportunity to select good condition second-hand items and/or inexpensive new items and hygiene products.  All the items are donations priced at reasonable rates (Examples:  good condition used t-shirts 10 pesos or about $.50USD; new t-shirts for 20 or 30 pesos about $1 – $1.50 USD; shampoo for 20 pesos, toothpaste for 10 pesos). 

Milton and Eena
Elena and Milton selected home goods and clothing for their family of 11 spanning three generations

The Community Closet is staffed by local and/or visiting volunteers usually on “Volunteer Thursdays” but can easily be open other days. 

Special thanks to the many donors who continue to give $ as well as “in kind” donations, especially during the past year when many families are out of work due to Covid. We often say “It takes a village. . .”  This all happened (opening a temporary community closet for 2-3 months) from the idea to a reality in less than 24 hours.  The owner of the property just two doors from our storage bodega deeply discounted a rental apartment as their part in supporting the community. One of our local leaders cleaned the space immediately; four visiting volunteers painted it; other volunteers transported the crates of items from the pilot project directly to the new location.  We “hired” local parents without work to help lift/haul and organize everything.  Opening a community closet was not in our plans.  However, covid has provided us opportunities and challenges to serve the community in ways we hadn’t previously imagined.

Watch for future posts about purified drinking water systems.  “Volunteer Thursday” events will continue now through April.

Jefte (standing local volunteer), George and Randy (seated visiting volunteers) check out a mother’s selections.

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