Iowa women start ministry to collect clothes for the needy
BRITT, Iowa (AP) — Friends Katie Johnson and Cindy Kumsher have always wanted to do something together.
And this summer, they found their something.
In August, the women opened Grace Abounds, a Christian ministry housed in the United Methodist Church in Britt. They accept clothing donations and provide them to children and adults in need within the communities of the West Hancock Community School District.
“We were both feeling the call to do something, so we talked about it and we just decided this is what we were going to do together,” Johnson told the Globe Gazette .
The idea, Johnson said, was placed on her heart by God nearly a year and a half after she learned about a school counselor in her hometown who collected and distributed donated items to her students as a need arose.
“I just thought it was a great idea, so for the longest time, I was donating things to them,” she said of a school in Wall Lake.
After learning of the need from school and hospital officials, Johnson and Kumsher decided to create something similar within their own community.
The first step for the women was to determine a name that appropriately conveyed their mission.
Johnson said the name was “definitely spoken through God.” After she had prayed about the ministry, “Grace Abounds” popped into her head “out of nowhere.” She searched the Bible with verses containing the phrase and found 2 Corinthians 9:8-9, which is part of a chapter that talks about “being a cheerful giver.”
“This whole time we’ll come across something new, we’ll pray about it and we’re just led and blessed,” she said. “It’s just been awesome to see the different ways he’s working through us.”
The second step for Johnson and Kumsher was to find a space to receive, store and display donations, and a room, previously used by a sewing group at United Methodist Church, which Johnson belongs, seemed to be the “perfect space,” especially since it has its own entrance.
“Once we figured out a place to store everything, we just really went to town and tried to spread the word,” Johnson said.
In August, Johnson and Kumsher held an open house to provide members of the community an opportunity to learn about the organization and donate items, and they had “an overwhelming turnout” and “tables full of stuff.”
“It was awesome,” Johnson said.
So far, Grace Abounds has received “a little bit of everything,” and have inventory to accommodate children from infant to 18 years old as well as adults. The donations, organized by size and gender, fill hangers, shelves and cabinets at the church.
“We have been given the best things,” she said. “People have just been really kind in what they’ve given us. It’s really nice quality things, and we haven’t had very many that we’ve had to get rid of.”
Johnson said the organization has been fortunate to receive West Hancock Eagles gear as well as school concert attire, like white shirts, black pants and black shoes. It is now looking for appropriate winter gear, like coats, snow pants, boots, hats and gloves.
“Around here it can get pretty cold, so we’ll definitely need those things,” she said.
Grace Abounds accepts donations without stains and holes. Items received that don’t meet the organization’s standards will be sent to One Vision in Clear Lake, where they may still be able to be used.
“We don’t turn any donations away, so we’ll go through it, use it if we can, and pass it along if we can’t,” Johnson said.
The organization, she said, only accepts brand new underwear as donations.
Johnson said Grace Abounds has already had the opportunity to help individuals within the community, including a student who needed gym shoes, and looks forward to “following God’s lead” to meet more needs within the community.
West Hancock K-12 Counselor Matt Welp said Grace Abounds will be “a great resource” for the school district and benefit “students in all buildings.”
“I am always humbled by the amount of caring our communities show toward our youth. Whenever there is a need they always find a way to get it done,” he said. “Grace Abounds is just another example of small town support from our community.”
Grace Abounds currently doesn’t have set hours, but Johnson and Kumsher are willing to work with individuals and groups to meet the needs of others or accept donations.
“There’s no limit to what can go out,” she said. “We’re just hoping to be of service.”
The women are thankful to the community for the support they’ve already received and the support they’ll likely receive in the future.
“It’s been great,” Johnson said.
Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/