God’s Closet Ministry Grows in Lacey
Two years ago, Washington's Lacey Church started a chapter of the God’s Closet ministry. The ministry has one-day events where anyone from the community can pay $1 to register, get bags donated by Trader Joe's and fill the bags to the brim with quality, gently used clothes ranging from infant to teen sizes.
The ministry has faced many challenges, including a flood in the church that had us scrambling to find creative spaces to host the event. By God’s grace the ministry continues to grow and thrive, with our most recent event being the most successful to date.
At this stage the ministry limits advertising to our Facebook page and a few flyers made available to church members for distribution. On the morning of our most recent event, a single post on Facebook reached more than 4,000 people within hours. The event had 263 shoppers register and shop in about four hours. They filled more than 600 shopping bags and were given specialty items such as brand-new socks, underwear and toys.
Of the 263 shoppers, 47 volunteered a minimum of three hours helping us sort clothes and set up everything in preparation for the event. In return for their help, they received an extra bag to fill and the privilege of shopping first, an hour before the event opened to the rest of the community shoppers. On the registration form we had 22 people who requested Bible studies, 27 who gave us prayer requests and 143 who said they would like to be contacted about other children’s programs.
For our most recent event we made some very intentional efforts toward intergenerational involvement. We assigned junior helpers, plus their parents where possible, to adults during the event. We had one youth in registration, one helping with the specialty items, one helping those getting shoes and other items in the hallway leading to the main shopping area, and others who helped carry items to the shoppers' cars.
Additionally, we worked with our Pathfinder club while scheduling the event so Pathfinders could help the shoppers in the last shift and organize the messy tables from the previous shift. They also helped with the entire cleanup after the event.
Even prior to the event, church volunteers are encouraged and placed with the community volunteers to facilitate building relationships. These volunteers are usually from different generations than those volunteering from the church.
One young lady who had come to all the events, and who had volunteered for all but one, came to church to share what a blessing she felt the ministry was to her during our church service. The first event happened right after she had just moved to our area and was in great need. She shared how our ministry inspired her to create a parents' clothes swap Facebook group that helps parents between events. We were surprised as she shared how much she valued all the friendships she has made with our members and even pointed out specific members, saying she hopes she is just like one of our elderly members when she gets older.
We are excited about this ministry and how the intergenerational relationships are aiding us in sharing the love of God that brings hope, healing and peace through Jesus Christ to our community.