Fuller Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Mich., has a long-standing Lenten tradition of collecting donations for a local cause. For many years, congregation members donated money to a different cause each year.
Fuller members Paul, Pam, and Polly Slotsema, Jonah Phelps, Jacob Guikema-Bode, Cristina Garcia, and Bekki Landman bring Lenten donations.
One year Sue Hollemans, ministry coordinator at the church, decided that this was “kind of boring.” So she got creative: in recent years the congregation has donated equipment to start the church’s community garden and “buckets of love” filled with cleaning supplies for a local ministry supporting families.
This year, congregation members are bringing in lightly used household items each week to donate to New 2 You Shoppe, a local boutique thrift store whose proceeds reduce tuition at Grand Rapids Christian Schools. This cause is especially close to the congregation because the thrift store is fully staffed every Wednesday by volunteers from Fuller CRC.
Jan VanVeen, manager of the resale shop and a member of Fuller, offered an adult education session prior to Lent, outlining the work of the store, testimony from drivers who handle pick-ups and deliveries, and stories of working with customers. She gained two new volunteers after the event.
Each week the church is asking members to donate items from different categories: housewares, linens, small appliances, clothes, toys, games, tools, and more. “Everyone here is excited when the truck comes in full,” said VanVeen of the New 2 You Shoppe volunteers. February tends to be the month with the fewest donations.
“This has helped my kids understand Lent,” said Marci Phelps, whose children, ages 13, 11, and 6 chose which toys to donate. “We revisit it weekly as a family.” The cause is particularly relevant to the Phelps family because their children attend Grand Rapids Christian Schools.