A Clothing Ministry

We often rummage through our closets trying to find the right shirt and the right pants to make a perfect outfit.  There are many instances in which we try many different items on before stating “I have nothing to wear.”  Obviously, when many of us say this we are using it as a figure of speech.  We have a wide array of options in our wardrobes for which to wear.  We just cannot find the right item for that particular occasion.  Our desire to find the perfect outfit overshadows the fact that we are blessed to possess so many nice articles of clothing.  Imagine a scenario in which you truly do not have anything to wear.  This scenario is real and experienced by many of our neighbors in the community.  Someone who loses their job, fights a long-term illness, or loses their home and all of their possessions due to fire may find themselves with nothing to wear.  I have written before that we all are one major, catastrophic event from needing help.  If, and when, that event takes place, where do we turn?  We learned recently about one organization who offers many blessings to those in this predicament.

The United Methodist Church in Huntertown, Indiana offers many ministries that provide support to members of the community and those in need around the world.  We had the pleasure to serve in the Clothing Ministry during a recent volunteer experience.  The Clothing Ministry is the largest ministry offered by HUMC and it served almost 1900 individuals in 2010.  It provides clothing to individuals, families, and groups.  The clothing provided helps the homeless, area refugees, the elderly, and even the people of Africa.  The ministry accepts donations of gently used clothing that is sorted, washed, and distributed to those in need.  In addition to general distribution, HUMC also offers professional, business apparel for men and women through the Career Closet.  This attire is necessary to project a positive image for an employment interview, the workplace, or during a special occasion.  The Career Closet provided support for over 400 individuals in 2010.  The great thing about the Clothing Ministry is that all clothing is free with no questions asked.  If someone is in need, they receive help.

My daughter MaKenna joined me on this volunteer experience.  We had the opportunity to perform many tasks within the ministry to give us a great perspective of what they do.  We spent time sorting the recent donations and stocking the shelves.  After completing those tasks we had the opportunity to pull an order.  We were introduced to a volunteer who was pulling some clothes for a woman she knows in the community.  In our conversation, we learned that this particular volunteer had previously been a beneficiary of clothes through the ministry.  A few years ago she and her family lost everything in a house fire.  The church and its ministry was there to provide clothing, shoes, and basic household needs to help them rebuild their lives.  It was very moving to hear the story and to see her there volunteering in an effort to pay it forward.  We worked side by side with her to pull an order of clothing for a young woman in the neighborhood whom she knew was struggling.  We had some information about the individual and sizes that were needed.  All of the clothing is sorted by type and size and stored in the basement.  Our job was go through the appropriate boxes to find items that would be fit and be stylish for this individual.  Thank goodness MaKenna was with me.  I do not believe that I am certified in men’s fashion and definitely not in women’s.  We pulled some blue jeans, sweatpants, and tennis shoes that will later be donated to the individual in need.  The experience was very personal because we were the ones who hand-picked the items she would receive.  We were not there when the donation was given, but MaKenna and I know that we played a part in bringing a smile to her face.

We enjoyed our volunteer experience at The Huntertown United Methodist Church.  We were very impressed with the outreach that the Clothing Ministry provides.  We only volunteered a few hours, but it was easy to see that the time we spent with them was appreciated.  The work was not difficult allowing MaKenna to really contribute to the cause.  Her exposure to this ministry and the stories of need have made a huge impact on her.  She wrote about this volunteer experience in her journal at school.  The teacher was very impressed with the story and she asked MaKenna to share it with the class.  She is becoming a young lady who understands the power of service.  It is great organizations and congregations like HUMC that inspire us to do more.  I encourage everyone in the Fort Wayne area to visit www.huntertownumc.org to learn more about the Clothing Ministry and how you can help.  I would also encourage everyone to learn more about your church or those in your area.  Most offer great outreach programs that you can get involved with that truly affect the lives of others.

The next time you are in your closet struggling to find that perfect outfit or the shoes to match, remember just how fortunate you are.  I hope that you will recall this post when you start to say “I have nothing to wear”.

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