For Brookside Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., a crib ministry is not only an opportunity to provide cribs to families in need but also an opportunity to open church doors to seekers.
In 1987, several members of the church had a heart and a vision for a crib ministry. They began partnering with local social service agencies to identify and refer families most in need of cribs. Volunteers now also occasionally provide additional cribs to families through special requests.
“Cribs and mattresses are purchased as needed from several merchants online and are delivered directly to the church,” said Karen Price, current director of the ministry.
The ministry receives funds from Brookside CRC, church offerings, and some assistance from the United Way.
Despite its name, the crib ministry is not limited to cribs. Church members also donate toys, crib sheets, and knitted hats. Price said, “Cribs convert to toddler beds as well. We also provide a new crib shift, a small New Testament specially designed for new mothers (in English or Spanish), a toddler Bible storybook, and information on our church worship times, our mobile food pantry, and our Coffee Break ministry, as appropriate.”
Brookside can reuse the cribs after the children outgrow them. The ministry asks the families for a $20 deposit if they can afford one; if or when the families return the cribs, the ministry returns their money.
The ministry’s most encouraging news is that it is a doorway to relationships with members of the community. “We meet with the family, get to know them a bit, and offer them Christian love, encouragement, and prayer support,” said Price.
She added, ”Many are interested in learning more about what our church is all about. We invite them to church. Several have attended Coffee Break. The families are very appreciative.”
In the last 28 years, Brookside has distributed approximately 1,450 cribs. Currently, they are distributing cribs at a rate of about 30 per year.