Jana’s Closet expands in size, inventory

By Linn Ann Huntington, Special to The Hays Daily News
Anna Towns, senior administrative assistant at Trinity Lutheran Church, and Pastor
Brenda Roger look over a pair of boots donated to Jana’s Closet, a ministry at the
This professional ladies suit is an example of the “gently used” clothes available free
of charge at Jana’s Closet.

Jana’s Closet, which provides free “gently used” clothing to women in need of business attire, has expanded in both its physical size and offerings.

The ministry, named in honor of Jana Mackey, is located at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2703 Fort St.

Mackey of Hays was a 25-year-old law student at the University of Kansas when she was killed by an ex-boyfriend in Lawrence on July 3, 2008.  At the time of her death, Mackey was an advocate for women’s rights and had spent years volunteering to aid victims of assault and domestic assault.

Following her death, her childhood church, Trinity Lutheran, developed Jana’s Closet. Its purpose is to provide free, “gently used” professional clothing for women needing business attire for job interviews, employment, court appearances, and college or professional presentations.  Unlike a similar service in the area, the items are for the clients to keep.   

Pastor Brenda Roger said that in addition to offering professional clothes, the facility also offers shoes, purses, jewelry, belts, and scarves.  Its recently expanded inventory also includes scrubs, undergarments, and personal hygiene items. 

“When we look good, we also feel good,” Roger said.  “If we can help younger women, it can free up their finances to be used for other things, such as rent.”

The facility also offers free makeup consultations and tips on interviewing and creating or improving one’s resume. 

Roger said that recently many of their clients have needed black pants and white shirts for wait staff positions.

Dressy denim jeans are also popular, said Anna Towns, the church’s administrative assistant, who noted that she herself often wears these to work.

Even when the pandemic closed the church from March 15 to June 28, the staff still responded to phone requests from clients and would open the church for them to peruse the clothing available and select needed items, Roger said.

The church does not collect the names of clients or other identifying information, Towns said.  Clients do not have to meet any type of income guidelines.

This past fall church volunteer Linda Collins rearranged the facility, which has acquired more space.  Clothing is sorted by size and types of clothes, ranging from business casual to more professional. 

The church also worked with a group of students at Fort Hays State University who created three dressing rooms, each equipped with a full-length mirror, to allow clients more privacy. 

Towns said the church is still accepting donated items from individuals, but not large-scale donations from garage sales or used clothing shops.  “Anything we cannot use, we donate to The ARC Thrift Shop,” Towns said.

Following Mackey’s death, her parents set up Jana’s Foundation to continue her advocacy work on behalf of domestic violence victims.  But while Jana’s Closet and Jana’s Foundation support and publicize each other’s mission, the two entities are separate, Towns said.

Jana’s Closet does work closely with the clients of Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, 2716 Plaza Ave., Roger said.

“We are here to serve the whole community,” Towns said.

Roger added, “We can reach far more people than we were because of our increased inventory.  We want to get the word out to smaller communities.”

Jana’s Closet is open by appointment by calling the church office at (785) 625-2044.