Shortly after the Johnson Auxiliary was chartered, a Clothes Closet was started in April 1973. One of the first social service programs the Auxiliary offered through the Clothes Closet was to provide new baby clothes and supplies to those who had their babies at the City of Memphis Hospital Complex and to assist patients with clothing who were visiting the Clinics/Hospital, if it was needed. The baby and adult clothes were all located in one large room that comprised what was later named the “Mary Love Clothes Closet.”
It was a lucky day for the Johnson Auxiliary and patients of City of Memphis Hospital when Mary Love walked into the hospital in 1976. Every Wednesday until she retired, many years later, the white-haired, bright-eyed, and seventy-six year old faithfully fulfilled her volunteer assignment, which included taking care of the Auxiliary’s closet at the hospital.
President of her women’s fellowship group, Mary joined the Johnson Auxiliary to be of service to others. “It was really rewarding to me and I feel good about it,” she said, pointing out that her clothes closet had a bit of almost everything. “There are clothes for infants, children, and adults. There are also toys, books, and bedding, even wigs for women who have lost their hair during treatment. We get very unusual things donated and eventually we can always use something somewhere,” said Mary.
As patient needs grew, Regional Medical Center at Memphis divided the Closet into two closets – the Mary Love Clothes Closet, which has a brass plaque on the door in her honor and houses our adult clothes and comfort items, and the Baby Clothes Closet, which is where all newborn and baby clothes and care items can be found.
The Mary Love Clothes Closet is a valuable resource for patients at our Regional Medical Center at Memphis. A number of unexpected events can happen during an emergency encounter and having adequate clothing is something most people don’t anticipate. This Closet provides clothing to assist patients who are in need of clothing during their stay at Regional Medical Center at Memphis to wear home in the unforeseen event that their personal clothing has been damaged (cut off, torn, lost, etc.) to provide emergency medical care. These clothes can also be provided to assist family members of patients who may have arrived with just the clothes on their backs and who may need a clean change of clothes because they were not prepared for an extended stay at the hospital.
On occasion, if the need arises, we have also assisted hospital visitors whose clothing may have gotten soiled or damaged and are in need of other clothing to put on before they depart for home. Clothing donations, other than underwear and socks, which must be new, are accepted if they are clean and in good condition. Our clothing often comes from community partners, local churches and drives that are done with the hospital staff. Although we welcome donations, we do not accept clothing donations from patients or their family members while they are here at Regional Medical Center at Memphis. For assistance with the Adult Clothes Closet, please call 901-545-7244.
The Baby Clothes Closet is used as a resource to assist mothers who may need clothing for their babies upon discharge. Once a need has been identified-either by the Johnson Auxiliary, Pastoral Care, Patient Advocacy, Interpreter Service, Social Services, or the Sunrise Program Coordinator-a gift bag with an assortment of items (i.e., t-shirt, bibs, socks, outfit, pacifiers, etc.) will be delivered. The Baby Clothes Closet provides families, at no cost, new baby clothes and supplies if these items are needed for their baby after being discharged from the hospital. In the unfortunate event that a baby is birthed and passes at our hospital, the family may be in need of clothing for the baby. Another consideration for baby clothes is in the event that a baby’s clothes becomes soiled, if a baby shower is thrown for expectant mothers who have been here at the hospital for an extended period of time, and for the first boy/girl born during the New Year. Also donated knitted/crocheted baby caps have generally been distributed for every baby born at the hospital during the month of December, and if available, during the remaining winter months. These services are provided to families at no cost with clothing sizes available from preemie up to 12 pounds. This is an initiative of the Johnson Auxiliary, but managed by Guest Services. For assistance with the Baby Clothes Closet, please call 901-545-6632