Once word spread that the closet had a supply of clothes available to patients, more requests started pouring in, especially from the emergency room, which tends to a number of homeless and poverty-stricken patients
Now, the 80-year-old Carson travels by bus to local thrift shops to keep the closet well-stocked with about 100 pieces of clothing, and another 100 in a standby storage container. She goes on Tuesday, because that’s Senior Discount Day, and she watches for half-price sales to expand her buying power. Her average cost per piece of clothing: about $2.50. She knows just what types of items need replenishing, finds good deals and then takes the clothes home to wash and fold before they become part of the closet inventory.
“I enjoy shopping for the patients,” she says. “It enriches my life. Occasionally I see a patient being discharged wearing something that I picked up — and they look pretty good!”
Carson started volunteering at Regional Medical Center 21 years ago, after retiring from the U.S. Postal Service. She had been working for 31 years and didn’t know what to do with all of her newfound free time. Even after signing up as a tutor at the local library, she felt that she could do more. Her daughter’s mother-in-law volunteered at the hospital and suggested that Carson should too. She agreed, looking for ways to fill her days and finding a sense of fulfillment in helping others. In addition to keeping the closet supplied, Carson serves on the volunteer board and helps with the Junior Volunteer Scholarship Award fundraiser each year.
“I got more and more involved,” she says. “I just need it. It’s wonderful to get to fill my time with something positive.”