The Northern Lebanon Ministerium have united to establish a free clothing closet for students in need.

The Northern Lebanon Clothing Closet is located in seven rooms in the lower west wing of the former Jonestown Elementary School building at 135 S. King St., Jonestown. Access to the closet is via Door 13, off South Lancaster Street and across from Fortna’s Garage.

A press release from the ministerium says the need for the closet became clear when members realized that Northern Lebanon School District has the second highest population of students living under the poverty line in Lebanon County, second only to Lebanon city.

According to a joint statement released by pastors Robert Sim and Caitlyn Kurtz and school district social worker Kara Rhodes, most aid organizations are based in the city but it is “not practical or reasonable to expect those with very little means to travel that far for help.”

Since there already is an active food pantry in town, the J.O.Y. Pantry at 48 W. Market St., “we would focus our energies on establishing a free clothing closet for those in need in the Northern part of Lebanon County.”

According to statistics released by the ministerium, the district had 92 students who qualified as homeless in the 2022-23 school year. To qualify as homeless, a student must experience “a lack of fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence,” according to the statement. This year, the release noted, the district has 67 students who qualify under that definition.

Further, the statement notes that 874 students out of 2.041 districtwide are identified as low income.

Startup costs for the clothing closet were provided by the ministerium, local churches and businesses, “and the community has responded with overwhelming generosity in donating shelving, racks, clothes, and everything else we will be needing,” the statement says. Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 provided the clothing closet with “an extremely workable cost of rental of space,” organizers noted, and IU13 has plans in the future to use a portion of the space as classrooms for life skills instruction.

“It will be an ongoing project, so we will continue to need financial support,” the release says.

A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m., followed by refreshments and tours of the facility. The clothing closet will open on Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon, and on Thursday, Feb. 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. Permanent hours will be established soon after.

Further updates are available online at

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misstated the involvement of the Northern Lebanon School District. We sincerely regret the error.

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