“It’s an awesome thing you’re doing here,” said a woman coming into The Dragons Closet to donate bags of clothing during the open shop event on Jan. 20. Awesome it is - The Dragons Closet provides personal hygiene items, shoes, toys, cleaning supplies and gently used clothing to those who reside in the Gretna Public Schools district at no charge.
The founder, life-long Gretna resident Rachel Eastman, currently runs The Dragons Closet out of her garage. A lunch lady at Gretna Middle School, Eastman witnessed first-hand students being teased about their clothing. “Many people consider Gretna to be an affluent or rich community,” explained Eastman. “The truth is there are many people in need right here where we live. One night I was laying in bed thinking about it, and I decided right then and there I was going to do something.” The next day she emailed Dr. Riley and pitched her vision. The Dragon’s Closet was born.
In September 2018, Eastman opened her doors to the community. In November, Aspen Creek Middle School hosted a craft fair benefiting The Dragons Closet. The event raised $3,600 - enough to purchase clothing racks, hangers, a stock of laundry detergent, and cover the heating/cooling costs in the garage for the next year. In the months since, over 108 families have shopped The Closet. It is open to everyone who resides in the GPS district, and is open every Sunday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Private shopping appointments are also available.
Eastman is always looking for volunteers. Currently, she launders the donations, organizes the racks, takes inventory, and does all the marketing herself. Church groups, scouts, individuals; all are welcome to help out. The community can also help by hosting a donation drive - current needs include teen body sprays and lotion, toilet paper, cleaning sprays, new in package socks and underwear, teen girl clothes, diapers and wipes, and girls spring and summer clothing. Donations can be dropped off at U Save Pharmacy in Gretna, or at The Dragons Closet.
Next up for The Dragons Closet is a formal wear drive in February, aiming to provide Gretna teens a chance to attend prom. Spray tans, makeup, and hair appointments will also be provided. Eventually, Eastman would like to open a storefront location. Until then, she will continue to run the organization out of her garage, exemplifying the #BeKind movement. “I want to ensure that everyone in our community has access to the most basic necessities in an anonymous and supportive environment,” said Eastman. To stay up to date on Eastman’s current needs and upcoming events, join The Dragons Closet Gretna NE on Facebook.