OAK RIDGE - Piles and piles and piles of clothes. Donated items keep coming in for an organization Mikaela Messamore named after her son.
"Brysonn's Closet, because he's my angel," Mikaela Messamore said.
Brysonn's Closet is a Facebook community that started in January. Ten months later, the page is up to almost 2,000 members.
"People who either contribute or people who receive, they're all part of our Facebook public group page and they all become members so they keep up with everything we do," Messamore said.
What they do is connect donations for people in need. Brysonn's Closet serves six rural counties: Union, Anderson, Roane, Morgan, Scott and Campbell.
Mikaela and her mother, Karen, have seen poverty in ways they did not anticipate.
"I did not realize that things such as people who had five in a family and three towels. I didn't realize that much," Karen said. "They didn't have a sheet on the bed. These things have really shocked me and surprised me and really opened my eyes and made me extremely thankful for what God has blessed me with."
Mikaela said, "I've always had it that I want to give to people. Always. If I see someone who needs something, I want to do it. I don't care if I end up not having it because they need it. I just want to help everybody."
Mikaela decided to pursue that desire to help after some gentle persuasion.
"It's something God had laid on my heart for a really long time and I finally decided to listen," she said. "I had solicited for donations on a free clothing site and a lady was like 'I have a bunch of stuff for you,' so I brought it all to my moms house. She begged me not to do it. And I was like, 'Oh it will be alright.'"
Karen said, "I finally agreed that she could use the corner of my dining room and it ended up being within a month my entire house was full of donations."
Now they sort donated clothes at the YWCA building in Oak Ridge and keep some items in a storage unit.
"There's just so much we cannot possibly fit it into our little room," Mikaela said.
They store some of the donated items at the Trinity Outreach Center of Hope. TORCH and Brysonn's Closet work well together because TORCH serves the homeless.
"The reason we became so close is because we noticed they were helping a lot of our clients and it just seemed like a really good partnership," said Andy O'Quinn, executive director of TORCH.
"Whenever he has a family that moves into a place that has not had housing, we not only clothe them but we set their whole house up basically," Karen said. "It makes me feel good. It makes you feel like you've really accomplished a lot and done a lot. But at the same time I know that it's not really us that's doing it. If it wasn't for the donors we wouldn't be here."
They need more space for donations and help with delivering items to people without transportation. Mother and daughter trust that it will work out, that Brysonn's Closet will continue to serve.
"I love it. I couldn't have asked for anything more. It's everything I've ever wanted. If I could just do this all the time and only do this I would be happy," Mikaela said.
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