Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Fisher.
Lisa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
About 8 years ago, I was talking with a teacher friend of mine and she was saying how every year there is always one student she wants to take home. She tells me of a student that had come to school bragging because she had been to McDonald’s for 3 nights in a row till really late. She found out the reason she was there 3 nights in a row was her power had been turned off. This hit me because this student was just a year older than my daughter. I felt bad for the student and began buying clothing and snacks for the student and dropping them off to my friend for her student. I would do it every month or so and when there was going to be time off from school. I never met the student. This went on for about 2-3 years and then in the summer of 2012, my friend called and said the student had moved out of a district. I was devastated! Now, who was I going to help? I didn’t like donating to the metal bins because companies were buying what was in them.
I began thinking that I wanted to help more students in my community, so I started talking to a few of my “mom friends” about help students in the area and the Antioch Traveling Closet was born. I started just collecting new or slightly used kids clothing size 5 to 18. Along with shoes and winter wear. I met with the principal of my daughter’s school and told her my idea and she liked it. I got my first call from the
school 2 weeks later about a student who didn’t have a shirt on under his jacket. I picked up a bag of the size the student needed and dropped it off at school for the student to try on and pick out what he liked. A few days later, the school called and said he picked out some clothing and I could come back and pick up what was left. A staff member would call me during the school year looking for a specific size and if I didn’t have it on hand, I would ask for it on my Facebook page and people would already have it or someone usually would go buy it.
I decided to have a giveaway and my hairstylist wanted to come and give haircuts to anyone that wanted one. Our first giveaway was in August 2014 and we had about 40 people come.
Now, we have 3 giveaways a year in April, August, and December. We have clothing, shoes, winter wear, children’s books, cleaning supplies, toiletries and school supplies. We have between 5-7 hairstylists at each of our giveaways. We have been getting anywhere from 350-400 people from all over Lake, McHenry and Kenosha County.
We do not have a facility so donations are either dropped at my house or the Limerick Lounge in Antioch. We will try to go through the donations before we take them to our storage unit. We are able to have our giveaways at the Antioch Senior Center for no charge. On a giveaway weekend, we have to set up the day before and that takes about 6-7 hours to do. The Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Antioch lets us use their truck to move donations to and from the storage unit. We are lucky enough to have a Antioch Vikings Coach named Dave Moisa have his football team come to each event and help load the donations at the storage unit onto the truck then unload the truck at the senior center. Once unloaded there are about 30-40 volunteers that are on hand to begin the setup process of unpacking boxes, bags, and bins full of donations. Gillespie Ford in Gurnee, IL donates $1000 worth of toilet paper and reusable bags at each of our giveaways.
The Lodge of Antioch provides lunch for the volunteers on the day of a giveaway so they are nourished for the long day. Our donations come from the community members, school donation drives. We are fortunate that for the past 2 years Limerick Lounge has held a golf outing with the ATC as the beneficiary.
In December, Santa will come and pass out candy canes and take pictures with the kids. Good family Tattoo in Antioch holds a “toys for tats” event once a year in December from Noon till 8:00 pm. Customers bring in a new toy valued at at least $20.00 and they get to spin the wheel to win a gift certificate for free tattoo or piercing or donate to charity. Last year, they collected about $13000,00 in toys in an 8-hour span! The past 2 years, they have given the ATC their collection of gifts and we hold a special distribution for struggling families in our community.
I am 47 years old and live in Antioch, IL with my husband Joe and our 2 kids Jazzy and Colin. I work as a Special Ed Aide at WCPetty Elementary School in Antioch.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The ATC has taken off like Jack and the Beanstalk! We are able to help so many people through a tour of the community. We need to get the place to call “home”. A place where donations are accepted and gone through and to have them displayed for not only more giveaways but people that experience a tragedy such as a fire or maybe a mom that had to leave her home in the middle of the night. It’s difficult to look for items in our storage unit when people need things.
Antioch Traveling Closet Corporation NFP – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We help basically anyone that needs it and ask them in return to only take what they need and or what they want. Not one of our volunteers gets a paycheck they are paid with a full heart and lots of hugs on the days of giveaways. We are run 100 % on donations of clothing, cleaning supplies, toiletries, schools supplies and monetary donations from our community.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I guess it would be seeing the relief and just happiness in the people that come to the giveaways. We get lots of ‘Thank You’ and ‘Bless You’ for what you are doing. Since I work in a school, I see how the students that come to our events or we help out during the year how their whole attitude changes. Sometimes, the only haircut they get is 3 times a year when they come to a giveaway event.
Also, we have had families that were once struggling are now doing better and donate back to us. That is pretty amazing!
- Website: antiochtravelingcloset.org
- Phone: 847-302-7162
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Antioch Traveling Closet Corporation NFP
- Twitter: @antiochtc2017