Late St. Mark missionary remembered with clothing saleIt has been nearly a decade since Roberlene “Robbie” Carter passed away, but worshippers at her longtime church are working to ensure that her name is not soon forgotten.
It has been nearly a decade since Roberlene “Robbie” Carter passed away, but worshippers at her longtime church are working to ensure that her name is not soon forgotten.
An ongoing clothing sale at St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church will be named in honor of Carter, who served as the church’s missionary president for many years.
The grand opening of “Robbie’s Closet” is slated for this weekend, and sale organizers say they hope to have the affordable clothing sale open at least once every month.
“We decided it was a good way to remember Robbie,” said Annie Kennedy, a longtime St. Mark member and president of Robbie’s Closet. “She was such a good president. She was good to everyone. She was caring and loving.”
The sale, located in the basement at St. Mark, 530 N. Fifth Ave. East, will begin Saturday, June 8, and continue on Sunday. Gently worn clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children will be available. Nothing is more than $10. The inventory came mostly from donations and leftover items from past rummage sales.
Proceeds from the sale go toward maintaining the Robbie’s Closet program and supporting church members and others in the community in need, Kennedy said.
“We don’t have a lot of funds,” she said. “We have a lot of people coming in asking for gifts so they can buy food or diapers or pay rent, so we’ll use the money for that purpose.”
St. Mark, a traditionally African-American church, has a long history in Duluth and the Central Hillside neighborhood. The church will soon celebrate its 125th anniversary, which will be chronicled in next week’s Budgeteer.
Robbie’s Closet was spearheaded by Carter’s longtime friend Joan Logan. Carter died in 2004 and Logan wanted to find a way to honor her while helping St. Mark members.
Logan, a member of Pilgrim Congregational Church in Duluth and a community activist, began informally donating clothes to St. Mark, and members at the AME church joined in. The churches built a relationship together, members said, and a reception was even held at the Pilgrim church to honor St. Mark members.
Carter’s family was present at that reception, and one of her sons gave a sizeable donation that allowed the church members to formally launch the closet, said Natasha Garner, vice chair of the St. Mark trustee board.
A committee had to establish bylaws for managing the fund, and items such as shelving and clothing racks had to be purchased before the project could come to fruition, Garner said. Additionally, the church members had to collect and sort through clothing for the sale.
Donations came largely from St. Mark members, as well as the donations from Logan and other Pilgrim members.
“A lot of people have put their hands in this,” Garner said. “Joan Logan knew how much St. Mark meant to Carter. She wanted to honor her friend’s church and keep the relationship with St. Mark open. It has really bonded our churches together.”
Logan will not be able to see the fruits of her labor. She passed away in November 2012 at the age of 80.
Some clothing has already been donated to organizations such as the Damiano Center, and the church will continue to make individual donations to those in need, the organizers said.
They will continue to seek donations for Robbie’s Closet in hopes of having it open to the public at least one Saturday every month.
“We plan to keep it in operation as long as God’s willing,” Garner said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Robbie’s Closet grand opening
WHEN: Saturday, June 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, June 9, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (Hours are approximate.)
WHERE: St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church, 530 N. Fifth Ave. East
WHY: To provide affordable clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children. Nothing is over $10. The sale is named in honor of Roberlene “Robbie” Carter, a former missionary president at the church.