Serving people for the glory of God
When you lose your home to a fire, you lose everything, including the clothes in your closet.
Thankfully, locals facing such a loss have somewhere to turn.
What started out more than 30 years ago as a way to help a family who lost their home in a fire has turned into the Prineville Church of Christ Clothing Room Ministry.
"We do a wonderful work here and would love to share God's love with the community," said ministry member Linda Hill.
The clothing room is open to the community from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Thursday at the church. Those who would like to donate clothing may visit during those hours as well.
A team of church members help collect, clean, sort, organize and distribute clothing to those in need.
"We're the hands, feet and voice of Jesus," said Lynnetta Freie, who is part of the ministry.
Clothing Room Ministry Coordinator Jessica Streit said it has changed and grown over the years.
"It started off in the kitchen area. It was just a pile of clothes on the counter and people came in and dug through them," she said. "It was on an as-needed basis, and it's grown into this."
Streit joined the ministry four years ago and was appointed coordinator in February. She has worked to better organize the clothing.
She and her team sort clothing in a sorting room at the church and hang it on racks in the nearby clothing room according to size and style. They have sections for women, men, teens, children and babies. A separate room has shelves piled high with bedding such as Afghans, comforters, sheets and blankets.
In May, the clothing room had fewer hours while they replaced winter clothing with spring and summer items.
But now, they're back to their regular schedule and welcome donations.
"If it's large bags, we're only going to accept two at a time, and we would really like for it to be clean," Streit said, adding that they have to be more selective of the donations they accept because of space limitations.
"The community has been wonderful about bringing us things. They'll bring it to us and say, 'We know you give it away. The other places sell it, and we want it to be given away,'" Freie said.
They deliver items that they're unable to keep to the Opportunity Foundation thrift store in Redmond, which benefits developmentally disabled people. What they can't use is then bundled and sent overseas to countries where women are able to start small businesses of their own, Streit said.
"They either use the clothing as is, or they repurpose it into another kind of item," she said.
Although the clothing room has a good supply of adult clothing, they are in need of junior and children's clothing as well as children's shoes.
Aside from clothing, the ministry also puts together and distributes homeless bags.
"Our teens from our youth group will come in and make them as one of their service projects," Streit said.
Each bag contains toiletries and hygiene items as well as a first aid kit, nonperishable food and new underwear. Members of the congregation often donate funding to purchase new items.
The church also offers emergency food boxes. Members point out that they're not a food pantry, but they are able to provide two days' worth of food to anyone in desperate need.
Streit said from Jan. 3 to March 29 of this year, the Clothing Room Ministry accepted donations from 300 people and served 1,007 people.
"People are doing spring cleaning, so that's when we do get a higher volume," she said of donations, adding that they also have a steady influx of people needing clothing.
"On a normal day, an average is anywhere between 70 and 100 people," Freie added.
Hill, who also produces the church bulletin, reported 1,118 donors in 2018 and 3,949 visitors.
"There is a need. Our homeless population has grown also," Streit said, pointing out that local homeless people regularly visit the clothing room.
While the Prineville Church of Christ Clothing Room Ministry is only open a few hours each Thursday, they realize the some people may not be able to visit during that timeframe, so they can take donations and distribute clothing by appointment. They would also like to eventually open one Saturday a month, depending on the volunteers' availability.
Those in the ministry feel they are helping fulfill a community need.
"We're serving people for the glory of God," Streit said. "We're doing His work because there's a need, and so we try to meet those needs however we can."
Prineville Church of Christ Clothing Room Ministry
Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays
Address: 1095 NE Third St.