Cecilia’s Community Closet

By Anna Wade

Edited by Anna Rich

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – Berry College student Cecilia Kolbash started a nonprofit organization called Cecilia’s Community Closet dedicated to providing free clothing to children.

Cecilia’s Community Closet founder Cecilia Kolbash. Photo courtesy Cecilia Kolbash.

Cecilia’s Community Closet is a nonprofit organization located in Rome. Cecilia Kolbash, a sophomore Berry student, sets up clothing donation bins around the Berry College Campus. In addition, Kolbash accepts donations from within the Rome community.

Around once a month, Kolbash and her roommates, Lilli Murphy and Rayne Herring, drive to a different organization for children and set up a pop-up shop for all the donations, where the children can pick out clothing that is to their taste. Cecilia’s Community Closet is targeted towards children aged from kindergarten through 12th grade, specifically those in poverty with less opportunity or limited access to transport.

Lilli Murphy, Rayne Herring and Cecilia Kolbash. Photo courtesy of Cecilia Kolbash.

Cecilia’s Community Closet was started by Kolbash during her freshman year at Berry College. Kolbash has always wanted to use clothing to better the world.

Growing up, Kolbash witnessed first-hand how children in her community had fewer opportunities to express themselves with fashion. Kolbash has also always carried a great love for fashion, and she wanted to make clothing more accessible for everyone.

“I’ve always had a passion for fashion since I was young,” Kolbash said. “I wanted to give other kids the same opportunities I had.”

Photo of Cecilia Kolbash.

After consulting with Hope Willoughby, a professor at Berry College, Kolbash applied for several grants at Berry for nonprofits and businesses. After winning multiple grants such as the Angel Fund and business scholarships, Kolbash used the summer of 2022 to go through all the laws and paperwork to set up a nonprofit organization.

Kolbash also set up a nonprofit board to help run Cecilia’s Community Closet, which consists of Kolbash, her mother, and Professor Willoughby. To raise additional money for the nonprofit, Kolbash created a website where she sells shirts. All of the proceeds from the shirts directly go back into funding Cecilia’s Community Closet. Kolbash created the nonprofit herself from the ground up.

“You don’t need a business minor,” Dr. Paula Englis of the Berry business school said. “Just an idea.”

Cecilia’s Community Closet was a success due to Kolbash’s passion and drive according to Willoughby.

Photo courtesy of Cecilia Kolbash.

“Cecilia identified a real need,” Professor Willoughby said. “She wanted to do it, put in lots of work, never gave up even during the boring parts, and had a realistic vision for a real problem with the drive to succeed.”

Currently, Cecilia’s Community Closet is doing well and benefits many children within the Rome community. However, there are more plans for the future. Kolbash expressed a desire to expand Cecilia’s Community Closet outside of Rome, potentially in Alabama and North Carolina. In addition, Kolbash hopes to provide clothing for more age groups, establish a community closet for Berry College students, and create a nonprofit that provides business clothing for low-income working women.

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