‘I promised Curt I would never let him be forgotten’

The Browne Stone Centre at Stone Bridge Farms was full for the Clothed in Cullman event on May 9, 2024. (Cheyenne Sharp)

Annual Clothed in Cullman event raises funds for Curt’s Closet

CULLMAN, Ala. – Curt’s Closet held its largest fundraiser of the year on Thursday night, May 9, at Stone Bridge Farms’ Browne Stone Centre. The house was packed for the sold-out event, and the community showed up with support and love for Ashley Wilson and her nonprofit, which was founded in honor of her son Curtis Wilson who was tragically killed in 2017. Curt’s Closet keeps his memory alive by clothing the community’s children in need and showing them that they have value and are cherished parts of the community.

The annual event raises funds for the organization’s large back-to-school rush in August. the fundraiser also supports Curt’s Christmas, the nonprofit’s holiday outreach. Every Christmas, the group at Curt’s Closet searches for families in need and begins to check items from their Christmas wish lists, ensuring every child feels the magic of the holiday, no matter the household’s circumstances or hardships.

This year, Clothed in Cullman was held on a day that Ashley Wilson will forever remember.

“Seven years ago today, I was sitting in a funeral home, planning my 15-year-old’s funeral – something that no parent should have to do. God does not waste your pain,” said an emotional Wilson. “I went home and told God that I would turn it into something good, and I would not let Satan win. I promised Curt I would never let him be forgotten.”

Wilson has kept that promise. Curt’s Closet has reached and continues to reach thousands of local children annually through its boutique-style clothing “store” and back-to-school and Christmas programs. Clients of Curt’s Closet receive 10 items of clothing, a pair of shoes, a backpack and brand-new socks and underwear at each visit. Running the organization is a large operation that takes four full-time staff members and countless volunteers.

“I want everyone to feel so worthy and so accepted and so loved. In this world, there is so much hate. If I can love on one child and change the way they see themselves, I can go home and know that I’m still sharing the love of Christ,” Wilson shared. “I’ve always had a heart for children; they are innocent victims of life’s circumstances.”

Wilson was also on stage to present the organization’s Connell Volunteer Award, established four years ago and given to a volunteer who goes above and beyond in his or her duties to the nonprofit, embodying a servant’s heart for the  cause. This year, the award went to Fred Hankey.

“I don’t know what we would have done without him the past year,” Wilson said tearfully.

The silent auction portion of the evening was full of amazing gifts and winnings – from  baked goods, such as a Reese’s cake donated by Amber’s Delights, a red velvet cheesecake made by Delbert Cargile and even Curt’s Closet-themed sugar cookies, graciously made and decorated by Cullman’s own Katilynn’s Cookies all the way to three-night mountain and beach vacations were up for bid. Guests were invited into the venue at 5:30 p.m. to peruse the offerings and place bids.

The ever-popular Heads or Tails game made a return at the 2024 Clothed in Cullman event. For $20, guests purchased cards to hold either at their head or, you guessed it, tails, to win over $600 in prizes and gifts from local individuals and retailers. Each time the coin flipped, those with their cards on the “wrong end” were eliminated, ultimately leaving one winner each round.

The live auction portion was called from the podium and the bidding wars got intense for a few of the big-ticket items, some selling for well over $1,000. The big bid of the night was for a complete dinner for eight, including specialty wines, from local eatery The National; the bidding was so intense, the restaurant donated another dinner for eight mid-auction to benefit Curt’s Closet.

Find out more about Curt’s Closet at www.facebook.com/cw20curtscloset.

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