Happy Thanksgiving Eve. As we enter into the Holiday season and make our adjustments for how we will be celebrating with family this year, I know this comes with it some grieving at not being able to gather or do the things we long to do. My family will not be gathering together in one place this year but we are trying to figure out how to play a few games via Zoom and still laugh and spend time with one another.
I figured that in this crazy time of continual adaptation you might like to hear about a beautiful adaption BUMC made this year. Because we could not do our Annual Fall Bazaar like we normally would have, we instead did a winter clothing drive. Stacey Harris chaired this project up and she has shared with us her story of last Saturday’s events. Thank you to each one of you who donated clothes to make this happen. Listen to her stories- it will warm your heart and remind you of how much you have to be thankful for.
Winter Clothing Drive
Back in the summer when it looked like the Bazaar was not going to happen, I knew in my heart that I had to get some type of coat/clothing drive together for the community. Working at Hospitality House I also knew we were not going to get to have our annual coat drive at the end of October because of COVID and our safety protocols. I was so thrilled when I took the idea to Lory Beth and she said let’s present to Church Council as an option since the Bazaar will be cancelled. After much discussion the Council gave me their blessings to do the Winter Clothing Drive. So my little team (Lynn Dobson and myself) went to work. I came to each drive thru blessings collecting the items and Lynn each Thursday would show up to fold, sort and pray over each piece of clothing. As the weeks went on we outgrew our space and expanded. I would come by and set out more racks and hangers. I sent out an email to all the social workers/guidance counselors at the schools and talked with the coordinators with Hospitality House and Hunger and Health Coalition about signing people up by appointment. However, the best way we got most of our sign ups was over the past two weeks I put flyers in the food boxes that we at Hospitality House and Hunger and Health Coalition were handing out reaching the people who really needed this clothing drive the most. These were not the people in the community that we normally help from the school social workers from the bazaar. These were new people who didn’t even know how to find our church and I had to email them directions. These were some who would have probably been too intimidated to have even walked into the bazaar because of how massive our church is. But this winter clothing drive was a small setting with just a few people with lots of clothes. Before the drive church members kept asking me if I was going to give people a limit on what they could get but I didn’t have too and I knew that. They all said “Thank you” over and over because they were so appreciative for what they got. Now for just a few of the stories: We gave clothing away to 75 people.
A single mother shopped for her son who had one pair of pants that fit before the drive. She kept washing them every night so he could wear them clean the next day. This mother also normally got the boy’s coat from the school social worker who comes to the bazaar and when he gets his new coat for that year she wears his old one for herself. She was thrilled when the counselor called her from the school and told her that she could come this year and get not only his coat but clothes for the whole family. She works in food services so money has been tight.
One of our regular guys that eats Thursday night meals with us that lives in the woods came shopping. He got a pair of pants, a coat, one shirt and two hats. He told me that he is going to go to Florida to his Grandma’s because it’s just too cold up here.
A little 18 month girl got a Carthart coat just like her daddy’s and bib overalls to match. She was one happy little girl.
One woman of a large family signed up with 8 in the family but that was 8 kids (2 sets of twins) and 3 adults in the home. She had a death in the family this week and was grieving but still came because she said “you have no idea how bad we need clothes.” The kids ranged from 2-18. We helped her go down her list she had so that she made sure she got what everyone needed.
We had two single mothers come in together just trying to make ends meet. The look on the little girl’s face when she found the jacket she wanted and then the mom saw that it was brand new made it even better. My daughter, Maddey, and I almost started jumping up and down with the little girl. It amazed me how much joy I found in my heart when someone else found a coat they liked and put it on. This same mom after she got the kid’s clothes taken care of said “Now let’s go look for Mommy some clothes” and the little girl said “Yeah cause yours clothes has holes in them mommy.” The mom replied, “That’s because mommies wear the rags.” So I thought that I was going to lose it there and cry.
The afternoon was pretty quiet until I received an email from an older gentleman. His email was long, he couldn’t get to the church but was in desperate need of clothing . He just needed a couple of pairs of jeans, some t-shirts, and some sweatshirts. He had a coat. I asked if he could send me his sizes so I could make him up a bag and leave it for him to pick up later in the week. He replied back that would be great. In his email he told me he only had one sweatshirt that he has had for the past 6 years and has not had any new clothing from a retail store in years because he lives on a fixed income and that does not allow for things like that. However, we did not have any jeans his size because by this time it was 4pm and we only had 4 pairs of men jeans left. So I sent, Abbey, Scotty and Darrell (my children and their father) to Walmart to buy this man 3 pairs of jeans and a pack of t-shirts. We made him up a bag of sweatshirts from the table and he will have new clothes from a retail store. We emailed back and forth a couple of times and each time he would say thank you and blessings to you and hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. He picked his new clothes up Monday afternoon from the church office.
This winter clothing drive was such a blessing to me and I did not have time for it. I am working 50 hours at my job each week, I am a single mom with three kids, two in middle school remote learning 3 days a week. This would have been very easy for me to say I am too busy; I don’t have time for this and no one would have blinked an eye to that. But God would have known I wasn’t too busy to do HIS work. It was laid on my heart for a reason. I never worried for a minute about the clothes getting donated, we had more than enough. I never worried about the setup, (thank you Tony Graham and Lynn Dobson), we had it set up completely in 4 hours. I never worried that I didn’t have but one volunteer on the afternoon shift. Thank you Anna Grace Anderson, you are an amazing young lady! I never worried about the people signing up it worked out perfectly. Only one time did we have the max 10 people in there. I didn’t hit my goal of 100 people clothed but 75 isn’t that far off. God had HIS hands all over this project from beginning to end.
– Stacey Harris