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Volunteers run clothing closet from front yard

Open Hearts clothing closet gives away clothing, food, and other items in Oxford. Brandi Muller is the founder and runs the closet from her front yard of her home.

Posted: Mar 7, 2021 7:27 PM
Updated: Mar 10, 2021 10:24 PM

OXFORD, Ind. (WLFI) - Open Hearts Clothing Closet in Oxford isn't your ordinary donation store. In fact, it's ran in the front yard of 402 Vine Street by a small group of volunteers.

Racks of clothing and piles of donated goods are brought out onto the yard every day.

And every day, people from across Benton County - and beyond, travel to founder Brandi Muller's home to grab items they need.

"We get to know these people, you know," Muller said.

"They start becoming like family to us."

Open Hearts started as a start up project in the basement of the Boswell United Methodist Church  in the summer of 2019. When the church had to close, Muller didn't want the project to end.

"So we moved over to my front yard," Muller said.

"That's how we got here and it's bigger than it ever has been. We've had more people come now than what we had when we were in a building, so this is amazing."

Those people come from all over. Muller says Open Hearts has received donations from Lafayette, Attica, Delphi, and other communities, some hours away. Just the same, people have come far and wide in need.

Muller doesn't run the clothing closet by herself. Open Hearts has a board of officials who manage donations, monetary and otherwise. Day to day operations are ran by volunteers in the community, like Brittnie Ekola, who joined six months ago.

"If somebody is reaching out to you personally through your cell phone and you know that they're struggling, it's a win. You drop what you're doing right then and there and you help," said Ekola.

Or Kiesha Stapleton, the secretary who has been with Open Hearts since the beginning. 

"You know we are not just, you know, the clothing closet," Stapleton said.

"We are your neighbors, we are your friends, we are just everybody else."

Muller says it doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, or your situation. If you are in need, you are in need. It's something she's known personally.

Muller was bullied in school for not having nice clothes. She hated to go to school because of it.

"I cried, I begged my mom please don't send me to school," Muller said.

"I don't want any child to have to go to school and say I don't have the right clothes and tell their parents that they don't want to go to school because they don't have the right clothing."

It's with those memories in mind that Muller opens up in her front yard every time the weather permits. It's the reason she continues to open her yard - and her heart, to everyone around her.

For more information on Open Hearts Clothing Closet, you can find their Facebook group, or reach out to Brandi Muller at 765-413-3759.

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