Monday, November 19, 2012

The Caring Closet

"It's not just giving clothes. It is giving emotional and biblical support," said Jeannie Ashenfelder about Bethany UMC's outreach mission.

On the last Saturday of every month except December, Bethany UMC opens its doors for people in the community to shop for free clothing and household items. The church had considered pricing everything at ten cents to raise funds but decided instead to simply provide the items no cost. "It's really become like a family" said Ashendfelder. "Some of the people who started as shoppers, now help out as volunteers. They're so appreciative and want to give back."

The program not only helps guests financially but also spiritually. Shoppers may submit written prayer requests on the prayer wall. "Often times we see a volunteer and a few shoppers in a circle in the back of the room praying together," said Ashenfelder.

The mission started small, but spread by word of mouth. "We currently serve about 80 people on a Saturday, "said Ashenfelder. The church has also begun adding a food component to the ministry. In the summer the church grilled hot dogs in the pavilion for guests. Throughout the winter the church will provide packaged home cooked meals for the shoppers to re-heat at home.

The ministry serves the community's needs in many ways. "Word has spread beyond Marysville to many surrounding locations," said Ashenfelder. Eventually the church hopes to have a separate building for the Caring Closet so that it can be more accessible to the community. It will happen with God's timing. It's amazing to see how often things just come together. God surely is in control, said Ashenfelder.

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