The following report is from GCI member Mary Fozard:
With our nation facing a weak economy, churches wonder what they can do to help. Despite being small, aging and short on funds, New Beginnings, the GCI congregation in Hickory, N.C found a way – it’s a ministry they have named Children’s Closet.
It began in early October with a large yard and bake sale. The proceeds were used to purchase initial supplies. Now, one Saturday a month, they open their church doors from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and provide free children’s clothing for ages 0 to 12, and free baby diapers and baby products. The same day, they also hold a small yard and bake sale. The proceeds are used to purchase more clothing and diapers to distribute. All clothing offered is high quality, without stains or defects. It is laid out neatly according to size in a small, but brightly decorated room set aside for that purpose. Tables are also set up in the sanctuary where better quality clothing is sold for a small donation.
A small play area with toys is provided for children who come with their families. On their opening Saturday (November 5), they saw one family with five children returning for the second time to receive free clothing. Some who drop in for the yard sale are very generous and offer to pay more than what the yard sale item is worth. One man bought a coffee mug for 25 cents and gave $20.00, telling us to use the rest to buy baby diapers. Another retired grandfather on a fixed income was happy to get a few cute baby pajamas for his grandson for 75 cents. When one of our church members told her sister about Children’s Closet, her sister sent a donation of $50 to help even though she is a member of another denomination.
Since non-food items cannot be purchased with food stamps, the congregation also set up a Household Pantry Prize table with about $100 worth of personal need items like shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Also included are household cleaning items like laundry detergent, soap pads, and dishwashing liquid. Paper products like bath tissue, wax paper, Kleenex, plastic wrap, garbage bags and paper towels are also available. Every family who makes a small donation for clothing, yard sale items, or bake sale items is eligible to draw from the prize drawing box and win one or several items on the table. These products are donated by church members and are greatly appreciated by those who receive them.
Feedback from families coming has been quite favorable and some have begun to inquire about the congregation’s church services. Brochures about the congregation are given to those who visit Children’s Closet. They also put an announcement about the ministry on the sign outside the building.The day it is open, they set out many little signs with balloons to attract attention. Once people come in and see what Children’s Closet has to offer, they tell their friends and relatives. Free advertising!
The congregation used to wonder if anyone in the community noticed their presence. Now, when people drive by, some are saying, “That’s the church that gives out free children’s clothing and free baby diapers. Now that’s a church that cares!”
For information about Children’s Closet you may contact New Beginnings pastor Paul David Kurts at email@example.com.