By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Westborough – When the former pastor of Chapel of the Cross Tom Sparling, challenged the congregation with the question, “Would our community miss us if we ceased to exist?,” church member Sandra West took the question heart.
In response, she organized the church's first Community Give-Away in 2008.
“I believe God gave me the idea to do this give-away based on Pastor Tom's question,” West said. “I presented the idea to my Monday night Women's Bible study group and we ran with it.”
The first year of the give-away, West and her band of 13 volunteers collected, organized and folded mounds of clothes to be given away. With monetary contributions from Wal-Mart in Framingham and Roche Brothers they also purchased diapers, wipes and laundry detergent, which were also given to the families who attended the event. The first year, 30 families benefited from the give-away. Each year since, the numbers have increased, with 145 families receiving free clothing and toiletries in 2011.
With donations from the congregation, neighbors and friends, the Community Give-Away offers clean and gently-used clothing (including coats and shoes), gently-used towels, new unopened personal care products, diaper and wipes and laundry detergent free of charge for deserving families. There is no required “proof of need,” but is for the purpose of helping those who are in need.
According to West, the clothing donations from the congregation alone provide more than enough supply for the give-away. The organizing committee is, however, looking for donations of toiletry items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and shampoo. What they need most, she said, is people willing to come help sort and fold clothes the week of the giveaway in the evenings. Anyone wanting to volunteer in this capacity is asked to contact Lynn Hall at 508-898-3934.
“I’m amazed at the generous volume of donations we get every year, and especially grateful to the volunteers that come out that last week. There are a couple of families we can count on every year to show up with everybody, including the kids who are old enough to be helpful, to work on this project. It's such a wonderful way to encourage children to start responding to God's calling to love and help others in their community,” said Hall, who has helped organize the event for the past two years.
Donations of toiletry items can be taken to Chapel of the Cross June 13, 14 and 15 and placed on the table by the door (any time). All donations are greatly appreciated and will certainly bless those who receive them, West said.
“It's so easy to allow myself to be preoccupied in my own little world and routine,” Hall said, “but the give-away is all about the families who are going through financial challenges that we might help that day, hopefully not only practically, but with a friendly smile and encouraging word. This is a God-driven project, and I’m blessed to be a part of it. Chapel of the Cross provides many opportunities to be Christ's ambassador. This is one of those opportunities.”
The Chapel of the Cross Community Give-Away will take place Saturday, June 16, from 9 to11 a.m. at the church, 160 Flanders Road.