“Hi there! Sign in here at the table then find some clothes your children will like. There’s changing rooms if you want to try something on,” says Brooke Greening as she greets each family entering the church fellowship hall.
Another church worker from Faith Baptist Church in Mason City, Iowa, gives each parent an empty sack to use while shopping in the aisles that stretch across the room. For the past several months, volunteers from the church have been saving and sorting used children’s clothing, as well as purchasing new items with money from the church’s evangelism fund.
“In Mason City there’s not a lot of high paying jobs . . . not a lot of upper-middle-class people,” Pastor Scott Greening explains. A year ago, the church scheduled the clothing giveaway to coincide with back-to-school shopping. This year the church timed its event to coincide with a free school supplies give-way at the local Salvation Army, which screened the participants for an income qualification level and then passed out flyers advertising the church event. The church also publicized the event with public service radio announcements and a profile in the newspaper.
“The people who are here today might have grown up in a church, but only a few I’ve talked to today are still active in their church. We find they are interested in our children’s and youth programs,” Scott Greening says.
Patty Lakin agrees, saying, “I’ve had a whole lot of people interested in our JOY Club for the kids.” She and her husband are parents of two children, as well as foster parents of two others. She spent her afternoon making connections with the guests who came shopping for clothing. “Because I got saved out of drugs and alcohol when I was twenty-six, I can be a support to people with the same problems.”
Miles Grismore has been senior pastor at Faith Baptist since 1989 and encouraged the congregation to adopt as its motto, “The Church That Cares.” Scott Greening joined the staff as outreach and discipleship pastor in 2006.
“Pastor Scott has done a great job of organizing our community outreach events,” says Patty, who has noticed that the events also serve to raise the church’s profile in the community. “A few weeks ago we were doing door-to-door visiting when we introduced ourselves to a couple,” recalls Patty. “They asked, ‘Aren’t you the church that gives away free children’s clothes?’”