The Rapidian

Calvin CRC Family Assistance clothing ministry celebrates 50 years of service to Grand Rapids area

The ministry and its history was honored at Calvin CRC's November 24 service and special program
Calvin CRC Family Assistance clothing ministry

Calvin CRC Family Assistance clothing ministry /Calvin CRC

It was 1969.  Sesame Street aired for the first time. Woodstock drew 350,000 young people. Neil Armstrong made a giant leap for mankind. A pre-version of the Internet, called Arpanet, sent the first communication between computers. A Boeing 747 debuted. And a group of ladies of Calvin CRC began the Family Assistance clothing ministry.  

Since then the FA has grown and served to provide clothing in the name of Jesus for 50 years. Each order that is filled includes a short note which tells the recipients that they are receiving this clothing because God loves them and is showing His care for them through His people at Calvin Church. So far this year, 2,720 such orders have been filled.

The clothing comes from a number of sources: donations from members of the congregation, new socks and underwear and many coats and boots purchased with funds provided by offerings of Calvin CRC, and excess inventory from local thrift stores. Additionally, some children’s pants and tops are sewn on site by volunteer workers.

Each order is placed by a social worker from a local agencyHead Start, Bethany Christian Services, Kent County Health Department, 70 X 7and the Women’s Resource Center, to name a few. These workers let the FA staff know the types of clothing needed and the size and gender of the recipients.  Then a volunteer grabs a cart and a bag and selects what is ordered from the many aisles of inventory. A little extra something is added at the top of the bagtoiletries, a book or stuffed toy, wooden blocks--along with the aforementioned note. When the order is completed, the FA staff notifies the social worker, who picks up the bag and delivers it to the family or individual.

Besides the inventory, the FA building, which was totally funded by Calvin CRC and opened in 2015, includes space to intake clothing that must be sorted, laundry facilities, a sewing area, shelves for filled orders, and a coffee-time meeting area. This was a vast improvement over the previous work space, which was a former parsonage, where the inventory was spread over three stories, including an attic, with narrow and steep staircases and a garage used for intake donations and baskets of footwear. The new facility has allowed for an explosion in the number of orders filled and, thus, the number of needy neighbors in Kent County who are served.

To celebrate both the 50 years of the ministry and the paying-off of the loan that financed the building, November 24 was be a special day at Calvin CRC. Elements of the 10 a.m. service praised God for His work through this ministry and acknowledging the program’s directors and volunteers over the years. Following the service, the congregation celebrated with a brunch, along with a short program that will include a slideshow documenting the ministry’s work in photos spanning the 50 years.

Donna Kamerman-Houskamp is a volunteer with Calvin CRC Family Assistance clothing ministry.

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