Ramona Food and Clothes Closet will kick off its 30th anniversary with a celebration featuring refreshments, prizes and, best of all, lots of low prices from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, April 1, said Carlos Murcia, the nonprofit’s manager.
Hot dogs and lemonade will be served, drawing tickets will be given away for a variety of prizes, and the community is encouraged to stop in and see the recent renovations at 773 Main St.
“This is the first of our anniversary celebrations, with more to be announced,” said Donna Zick, board member.
Ramona Food & Clothes Closet, which operates the thrift store in the building that once housed a bank, has been assisting those in need since its inception. In addition to helping individuals and families in the region, it presents grants to organizations such as the Ramona Senior Activity Center and Young Life as well as scholarships for as much as $18,000 to high school graduates who otherwise might not attend college.
Pat Kallen, one of the founding members, writes about the early days.
Ramona Food and Clothes Closet origins By Pat Kallen The origin of the Food and Clothes Closet began in 1982 in Ramona, when there was a great need uncovered for food and clothing for dependent families who lived in Ramona. One of the first persons to become aware of the need was Richard Raber, president of the Ramona Ministerial Association. He felt there was a hidden group of people who had need for help in Ramona, and they only surfaced during the holidays. The organization which developed in March 1983 to help those in need was a result of a community meeting of Ramona citizens to discuss how best to receive, process, and distribute an ever-increasing amount of donations being donated. Ramona Food and Clothes Closet was officially established at this meeting and has been in operation since. Don and Helen Conklin with John Singer were the primary organizers and started by supplying a three-day food package that was given to each needy family and individual who lived in Ramona and who expressed a need for food. Food also was offered to people off the street, and those who made it to Ramona often were given gasoline vouchers to reach their destination. Ramona churches and schools helped in packing holiday boxes every Christmastime, and “Share Your Holidays” because an annual event is still a very important event in Ramona every Christmas. In a short time, the increasing amount of donations made it necessary to set a permanent thrift shop to further assist the needy families of Ramona by selling good quality donated clothing, furniture, and household items at an affordable price. The thrift shop continued to grow and resulted in several moves to even larger facilities. In 1994, a move was made to the old abandoned Bank of America at 773 Main St., which was purchased due to the help of former Ramona businessman and board member John Singer. It is still in full operation today, housing the thrift shop, emergency and holiday food distribution, an emergency food pantry, board room, and a room to receive, store, and process donated merchandise. Ramona Food and Clothes Closet is governed by an all-volunteer board of directors who are elected annually. Operating profits fund many local Ramona assistance programs that provide assistance to individuals in need because of economic or health circumstances. Those organizations include: In His Steps, Ramona Senior Center, Intermountain Fire and Rescue Department, Young Life, Boy Scouts of America and Therapy. Ramona Food and Clothes Closet also assisted victims of the two wildfire disasters. Under Jeff Funk, former director of the Food and Clothes Closet, a Community Spirit Scholarship was instituted to provide assistance to youngsters who otherwise might not go to college or who are the first ones in their family to go to college. The existence of Ramona Food and Clothes Closet allows many people today to find affordable items they could otherwise not afford. To allow those who are not familiar with Ramona Food and Clothes Closet, a celebration will take place the next six months, with weekly sales beginning with special sales on Easter goods. For more information, call Julia Jacinto at 760-440-9368.