Church program offers free baby clothes

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Members of Hope United Methodist Church want to balance supply and demand for a baby clothing ministry started last May.

Sitting in the church kitchen and looking out toward several rows of donated baby items, volunteers paused during a chat about current affairs last Saturday to discuss the market for the program, called Hopeful Hearts.

They have the supply. They want more demand. "We've been blessed with more donations than we ever thought we'd get," said church member Linda Fields. "We're trying to do a better job of reaching our target market," said another member, Jackie Marion. "The target market changes all the time." Marion said she and other volunteers spent about 12 hours last week washing, sorting and organizing the "abundance" of baby clothes that have been donated to the church. "We're getting more donated now than we're getting people to come and get clothes," said Shauna Arnold, who Marion credits with starting the ministry. "We have an abundance; it's just a matter of getting the word out."

Arnold said she got the idea from a church in Delaware, Ohio, where she and her husband, Pastor Craig Arnold, last served. Marion said she and other church volunteers have called representatives of Canal Winchester Human Services and the Canal Winchester Area Food Pantry to get a better idea of their target markets. Church members also have made fliers and posted them around the Canal Winchester area to increase awareness, Arnold said. "Word of mouth, I think, is how it's going to spread the fastest," Arnold said.

Kit Lloyd, a church member volunteering time recently, said the ministry has served about 75 families since May. Marion said each family averages about two children. She estimated the ministry has helped clothe about 150 children since May.

The clothes are given away free from 10 a.m. to noon on the fourth Saturday of the month at Hope United Methodist Church, 83 E. Columbus St. In the first hour of a giveaway last month, volunteers said about 10 families came to the church to pick up clothes, which are available in sizes 0 to 5 toddlers.

Church members have to get the clothes from storage and put them out each month. Fields said in the beginning, there was a limit on the number of items a family could take. "There's no need for that now," she said. "We have plenty. We'd love to have a permanent place."

Church volunteers still are accepting donations. For more information about the program, call the church office at (614) 837-7548.