“All it takes is a spark to get a fire going,” and that’s what Brenda Harden and the Elam Egypt Baptist Church did in 2010. Harden heard about another community in another state that had worked gathering an enormous amount of school clothing and gave it all away to families in need on one special day. The spark had been lit.
Several months prior to the first Clothing Giveaway in 2010, the church gathered school uniforms for children. Thousands of clothing items came in from every corner of Effingham County. The volunteers then sat aside Saturday in July to giveaway the clothing. The response was enormous. Hundreds of families with children needing school uniforms arrived and within a couple of hours all of the clothing had been given out.
The volunteers were physically tired on that day but their hearts were filled with joy as they began to talk about “the next clothing giveaway.”
Within a couple of months Harden and the church decided to do another Clothing Giveaway in 2011. They began gathering uniforms again. This year they would expand the inventory to include clothing for the parents and babies.
One by one other churches joined them in gathering clothing. As the clothing came in and was sorted and boxed space for storage became a premium. That in no way doused their spirit. They continued on.
On the morning of July 23, more than 100 volunteers from across Effingham County — representing many churches —arrived at the ECHS gym. They set up tables and unboxed the clothing. Each volunteer taking great pride in their work — as if designing a fine department store display. The event was extremely well organized. Every volunteer had a job to do. They even had a “Code Adam” safety plan for children that may become lost in the crowd that day.
When the doors opened families strolled among the tables of clothing in an orderly fashion. Volunteers greeted and assisted everyone with a smile. When the day ended it was learned that nearly 800 families had been assisted with each child receiving at least three school uniforms.
United Way-Effingham was asked to participate this year with an information table. UWEC provided literature to the families on how to obtain free prescriptions, food assistance, and more.
This week, all of the volunteers who made the 2011 Great Clothing Giveaway such a magnificent success are saluted as Everyday Heroes.
Your donations to United Way help to fund more than 25 health and human service programs in Effingham County. These programs impact the lives of hundreds of families in our community. Their annual fundraising campaign began earlier this month and will continue until Nov. 18.
More information on United Way is available at www.uwce.org or by calling their local office at 826-5300.