By Joyce Coronel
Arizona, with its dry desert heat, attracts thousands of snow birds each year, people who are tired of shoveling snow.
Just ask Jim Brown, a native of Minnesota, who owns Fish Window Cleaning.
The Chandler resident moved to Arizona in 1987 and says he doesn’t miss the biting Midwest winter one bit. “Shoveling slush, your car gets ruined, your clothes get ruined. It’s 20 below and you get a flat tire — it’s challenging,” Brown said.
Three years ago, Brown became a member of the advisory board for Clothes Cabin, a Chandler outreach that serves needy area families with clothing and blanket donations.
Although it doesn’t snow in West Chandler/South Tempe, when children leave for school in the morning, the temperature regularly dips into the 40s during November and December. That’s when Clothes Cabin steps in to lend a hand.
By the end of December, the Chandler non-profit will have served some 1,800 needy families with clothing, bedding, shoes and towels. During the winter months, blankets and warm clothing are especially needed.
All items are donated gently used and sometimes even new. Clothing Cabin is always seeking donations of clean, neatly folded clothing and blankets to distribute to the poor. Families are allowed to choose items at the facility once every three months with a photo ID.
“Decent clothing gives people self-respect and they go out and get a job then because they have that. Or they can put something warm on their kids and send them to school that way,” Brown said.
So why would a local business owner be involved with a non-profit like Clothes Cabin?
“It’s a great group of people that started the thing and it’s nice to be able to contribute something,” Brown said. Helping the organization run more like a business and assisting them in getting the word out were two other ways Brown thought he could help.
Shannon Skarphol, executive director of Clothes Cabin, said the organization serves many local families that consist of a mom and dad and three or four children.
“We have a whole spectrum, but it’s mostly working poor families,” Skarphol said. “Dad is working and Mom is trying to find a job.” The families face many obstacles, such as a language barrier, lack of education and childcare that’s so expensive it negates any earnings that might be generated from work.
“They’re looking for warm clothes or new clothes for their kids that they want to wrap up something for them to open Christmas morning,” Skarphol said.
Recently, the Clothes Cabin received a number of donations that will help keep them stocked through the end of the year, but they’re always seeking financial support. The Clothes Cabin is a 501 (c) (3) organization that is eligible for the Arizona Tax Credit for charitable organizations serving the working poor. That means taxpayers can deduct dollar-for-dollar from their taxable income.