Emily’s Closet “Our mission is to foster dignity and self-worth in girls, teen girls and women through clothing and visits to Emily’s Closet so that they can understand and know the infinite value and worth through the grace of Jesus Christ in their own lives.”
Story, Images and Video by Casey Rice
Emily’s Story Emily Paige Long was born six weeks earlier than expected on October 21, 1989, in Columbus, Ohio. After moving to Michigan and Alabama as a child, Emily and her family moved to Woodburn, Kentucky, where she fell in love with the town and Woodburn Baptist Church. As a child and into her teenage years, Emily loved puzzles, art, music and her siblings, Chelsea and Benjamin. Her mother, Theresa Long, described her as a sweet girl, helpful, adventurous, fun loving and said Emily was always smiling. Before her freshman year at Western Kentucky University, Emily attended Greenwood High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, played volleyball, participated in marching band, constantly straightened her oh-so-curly hair, and babysat the Hightower children whom she loved dearly: Emma and Meredith. Marla Hardcastle and Emily were connected through WBC, where Emily was an active member, loved to attend church camp, and was baptized by Pastor Tim Harris at the age of 16. Three short years later, Emily was killed in a car accident along with two others on January 30, 2009, fulfilling the chilling prediction she had told her parents many times before,
“I’m going to die when I’m young.” Although Emily’s death was a tragic event for her family, as well as many members of WBC and the Bowling GreenWoodburn community, it has resulted in many beautiful things. Her memory and helpful personality lives on through the lives of every young lady who is assisted by Emily’s Closet. Emily will never be far from the hearts of those who had the pleasure of meeting her, and she is buried in Woodburn Cemetery, where she will forever be in the town she never wanted to leave.
Above: Photos donated by Emily’s mother, Theresa Long Page 3 Top Left: Photo by Marla Hardcastle
“Emily’s Closet, I
suppose you could say, is a God send. I I live alone with my sick and elderly grandfather, and taking care of him is like a full time job. I am unable to have a job because of taking care of him. Therefore, money is tight, and I can’t afford new clothes like everyone else. I have low self-esteem to begin with, but thanks to Emily’s Closet, I am able to feel like everyone else. I found out about Emily’s Closet through my guidance councilor at school. She told me about Mrs. Hardcastle and Emily’s Closet. At first I was a little scared, but after I met Mrs. Hardcastle, I felt like everything was okay. Emily’s Closet has given me a new outlook on life. It made me realize, maybe things aren’t always easy, but there is always a reason to go on. I realized that I am not alone, and someone is there to help if I need it. It’s helped in more ways than I can name.”
What began as a small idea for Marla Hardcastle, founder of Emily’s Closet, has blossomed into a large organization impacting young girls, teen girls and women throughout Woodburn, Kentucky, and the surrounding areas. Girls and women in the community who are in need can shop seasonally at Emily’s Closet for up to five outfits, two pairs of shoes and two accessories ranging from everyday use to interview attire and even formal gowns, at no cost to them. A local agency, school, nonprofit organization or church must refer those who are in need of clothing in order for them to set up an appointment. Emily’s Closet is a ministry of Woodburn Baptist Church and works closely with other nonprofit organizations, such as Uspiritus, in order to impact a larger population of those in need of assistance. The goal of Emily’s Closet is to provide hope for young girls, teen girls and women who are at risk, in foster care, in crisis centers, or experiencing a difficult season of life.
Click on the video above for more information about the creation of Emily’s Closet.
How to Help 1
Monetary donations are always welcome. If donating by check, write it to Woodburn Baptist Church and indicate “Emily’s Closet” on the designated memo line. These donations pay for large bulks of clothing, like jeans, when found on sale.
The biggest way to help Emily’s Closet is through clothing donations. Any civic group, youth or college church group, sorority, or individual can donate articles of women’s and girl’s clothing. Clothing donation events can be divided into categories, such as Jean Drive, Dress Drive, Formal Drive, or Back to School Clothes Drive. Even smaller items can be collected through donation drives, such as tennis shoes and jewelry. Sorting clothes by season and categories, like shorts, t-shirts, or jeans, is always very helpful when donating. Clothes can be given to Laurie Tingle, secretary of Woodburn Baptist Church, between 9 am and 4 pm in the church office.
As of now, Emily’s Closet is only open for appointments, but is hoping to be open from 9 am to 1 pm one Saturday per month for any walk-ins and every Tuesday morning from 9 am to 12 pm during the summer months. Volunteers will be needed to help during the upcoming open store hours.
600 Woodburn Allen Springs Road Mobile Unit #1 Woodburn, Kentucky 42170 (270) 792-5395 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org