May 21, 2014
Mansfield’s Faith Fellowship United Methodist Church reports that its Free Clothing Pantry "Clothes To Go" has reached a milestone of distributing over 2 million pounds of clothing in the 6 years of its existence.
This outreach free clothing ministry began with a vision of two Mansfield women Joyce Niemi and Linda Jacobson. These long time members of the Faith Fellowship United Methodist Church were inspired when they visited and witnessed firsthand, this type ministry at The Ginghamsburg Church of Pastor Mike Slaughter in Ginghamsburg, Ohio. Within 2 weeks of their experience, Ms. Niemi and Ms. Jacobson approached Pastor David A. Arruda with a plan for a small boutique like ministry to help local ladies with their clothing needs.
Beautiful, new, nearly new, and gently used clothing was donated, not only for ladies but for the entire family. Within two weeks, the small boutique had to be moved to a larger area of the church and parts of the church’s lower level are now used for warehouse storage for processing, delivery, and pickup. Since Ms. Niemi and Ms. Jacobson's sparking idea, the "Clothes to Go” serving staff has expanded. Even though Ms. Jacobson has moved away from the area and Ms.Niemi has taken on more of a founder and figurehead role, many from the church and community have come forward to carry on their spirited compassion to help those in need.
"Little did we realize, that this would blossom into such an expansive ministry caring for so many,” says Ms. Niemi whenever asked about the ministry.
“Clothes To Go” was born opening its doors to over 50 walk in guests and several major deliveries and pick- ups per week. Besides their weekly local distribution and pick up, they have helped hurricane, tornado, and fire victims from all over the East Coast and have sent 25 pallets of clothing to a shelter in Texas to cloth homeless U.S. Veterans.
A new dimension to “Clothes To Go” was added when a national corporate donor of trades and work clothing decided to give them 2 separate colossal donations that were so large that they needed warehouse space to process this donation of epic proportion ( over 71,000 garments at each donation). Many from the corporate community came forward with much needed warehouse space, trucking, boxes, equipment, recycling container and supplies. Volunteers from every walk of life, spanning the 6 New England states were part of the volunteer work force to process this clothing for the homeless and marginal.
The donated clothing has gone out locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Locally, clothing has gone to people of Mansfield, Foxboro, Norton, and beyond. Regionally, clothing has gone to Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford, Stoughton, Taunton, Springfield, Lawrence, Providence, Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Newport, and Warwick, R.I. Nationally, clothing has gone to Alaska, Arizona, Texas, New York, Connecticut, and Maine. Globally, clothing has gone to Siberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Nicaragua. They continually seek out recipients for their clothing.
Besides the location in Mansfield, Ma, the church has helped to open a “Clothes to Go” at Martha’s Vineyard, at The River UMC, Woonsocket, R.I., and Memorial UMC, Taunton, Ma. They are in the process of helping a church in Providence, Rhode Island and in Abilene, Texas to open a “Clothes to Go” soon. Many community and regional churches of all denominations, that are unable to house their own “clothing ministries”, have partnered with Faith Fellowship UMC to collect, sort, and deliver clothing for “Clothes To Go” in Mansfield.
The clothing pantry accepts new, nearly new, or gently used clean men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, shoes accessories, hand bags, book bags, belts, career, work clothes, scrubs, tradesmen clothing, and casual.
“Clothes To Go” is located at 9 North Main St., Mansfield, Ma. It is open every Saturday 9 am to 11 am and by appointment for individuals and organizations. Volunteer servants are welcome. For more information call Faith Fellowship UMC at (508) 339-6040 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org . Visit them at their website: www.faithfelloshipumc.org or like them on Facebook.