As volunteers arrived at Plattsville EMC twenty minutes before the doors would open for Clothed in Love, a clothing giveaway, 50 people already lined the sidewalk waiting to get in. For the past four years, in spring and fall, the Plattsville church has been the place to go in the small rural community to pick up season-specific, gently-used, sometimes new clothing for the whole family.  “It is hard for some to understand that they don’t have to give something to get something, but that’s the whole point. It’s absolutely free,” says Pastor Tim Clayton. 

“The two-hour event was started by the church Deacons who launched it as a way to serve the community by meeting needs and simply blessing people in Jesus’ name” says Associate Pastor Libby Peters. It has caught on and gained momentum so that when the call for clothing donations goes out, the church receives so many garments and baby items that they eventually cannot take any more. The community is solidly on board and as much as 90% of the donated clothing and children’s toys now comes from outside the church. Catching the spirit of generosity people are donating clothes to the drive that they could just as easily sell online. Instead they are choosing to help others by giving.

“…a way to serve the community by meeting needs and simply blessing people in Jesus’ name.”

The church’s Youth Group came Thursday night to set up tables and haul in the bags of clothing. Friday’s volunteers sorted the mountains of clothing by size, or by age for kids, and displayed everything on wardrobe racks and tables. The final group of volunteers packed up everything left to be stored for another time or donated elsewhere.

Clothed in Love is advertised through Facebook and word of mouth. Eighty-eight people went through this time around. With the pandemic, it required all the usual precautions to safely host. People waited patiently, while social distancing in the church’s large foyer, and came into the gym in family groups as directed. They gave their names for contact tracing, followed the markings on the floor and wore masks. Trying on clothing couldn’t happen, but everyone was encouraged to simply take it if they liked it, and if it turned out not to suit  – to just pass it forward.

Most of those who came through were strangers to the church volunteers. A person from the community has commented to Pastor Tim that coming into the church building, and walking around, has made the church seem more accessible now. “It’s been nothing but a positive experience. We’ve made some great connections and one year it led to a person finding Jesus,” says Pastor Tim.

Pastor Libby stood by the door greeting people as they left, and offered her card and assurance that the congregation is there to help when there is a need. 

The clothing drive behind them, now it’s time to think of their next opportunity to bless others in Jesus’ name – their 3rd annual Christmas Turkey Drive (everything needed to prepare a great Christmas Dinner for a number of families).

This article is featured in the Winter 2020 edition of The EMCC Together Newsletter.

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