Enter Grace Christian Reformed Church in Muskegon, Mich., and you might think you’d entered a clothing store with rooms full of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing instead of a small church. That’s because you have, in fact, entered both.
(L-r) Gail Anderson, Lavonne Smith, Lesha Twork, Kim Cavanaugh, and Linda Hittle
Every Friday morning, church members Doris Stearns and Margo DeHaan open the clothing store ministry run out of Grace CRC for community members.
“The need is great,” said Stearns. “I’ve had as many as 110 [clients] in one day.” The average is closer to 50.
Clients are able to shop every four weeks, free of charge, for a certain number of clothing items. A typical purchase might include 2 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a couple of T-shirts, a pair of shoes, a jacket, underwear, and a sweater or two. All items are donated by the congregation, friends, family, and whoever else hears word of it.
The store is set up so clients can choose their own clothes. “I think people love to shop. I’ve seen mothers come in and sit on the floor and go through all the clothes for their kids while the kids play with a toy or two from our toy box,” said Stearns. “We have people come who have never been out of work before in their lives, and now they have to come and ask for help. We don’t do any intake sheets on the clients. There’s no need that we don’t fill if we can,” said Stearns.
One client said, “I just happened to be driving by. This was the help I really needed, and I’m so glad that I stopped.”
Since 2009 when the store opened, a total of 3,899 people have come through the doors.
“You just get a thrill when you’re there. We get so many hugs and kisses and God bless yous,” said Stearns. “You can really feel that the Lord is there, helping us do this.”