Hundreds of people lined up for a clothing giveaway the Samaritan Center and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church organized Friday morning.
The event cleared space at the Samaritan Center, where social distancing has prevented the nonprofit from giving clients access to clothing stores this spring. It also helped the Samaritan Center and the church work toward their charitable missions, said Father Don Antweiler, pastor at the church.
"Every parish is supposed to be a center of charity and mercy," Antweiler said. "This is one of those activities promoting that — outreach to the community."
The event, held in a parking lot next to Save-a-Lot, 128 E. McCarty St., drew people from communities all around Jefferson City.
Attendees were required to wear face coverings and try to maintain social distancing. They also were asked to bring their own bags to carry home the clothing they found.
Shifts of volunteers shuttled boxes of clothing from a warehouse at the side of the grocery store to the outdoor distribution site.
Shoppers, who were not limited on how much they could carry away from the giveaway, were allowed one-by-one to pass along a U-shaped series of tables stacked with clothing sorted by gender and size.
One grandmother who arrived early said she was picking up clothing for seven grandchildren. Accompanied by a pair of her grandchildren, she left the event with three large bags of clothing.
"We are really thankful this was here," she said. "We hope everybody gets what they need."
Ben DeFeo, the center's operations manager, said face masks made it challenging at times, but he recognized dozens of clients the center serves regularly.
The Samaritan Center not only provides food for the needy, it acts as a food pantry. It also provides parental assistance with cribs, car seats, school supplies and holiday supplies; holiday meals; utility assistance; gas vouchers; fans; tax assistance; medical and dental care; and legal care.
Family law is a significant portion of the services the center provides, DeFeo said.
Durron White, who moved from St. Louis to Jefferson City about 20 years ago, said as he was leaving Friday he's finally getting help with a divorce through the center after nearly two decades of waiting.
But he was at the site Friday for clothing. He got shirts and shorts for himself and for his step-son, White said.
And he got shoes for himself.
"I think I did pretty good," he said.
A retired St. Martin woman, Nancy Keating said she has been connected with the Samaritan Center (off and on) for about 20 years. When she can, she donates to the center as her way of giving back. On Friday, she was picking up a few things for herself.
"I needed some shorts and T-shirts and things like that to (do chores) in," Keating said.
Volunteers at the Samaritan Center were excited for the morning event, DeFeo said. Many of the center's volunteers are elderly and have had to stay away because they are the most at-risk of having serious symptoms involved with COVID-19.
"Now they are even more excited," he said.
The center is currently not accepting clothing donations. It will announce when it begins again accepting clothing.
For information on how to make other donations to the Samaritan Center, on programs the center offers or how to volunteer, visit midmosamaritan.org.