By Mitch Shiffer
WARSAW—On Truman Lake and the Lake of the Ozarks sits the community of Warsaw, where First Baptist Church houses a clothes closet ministry.
It began in 1986 as a small, one-room operation and has grown into a twice-a-month, multiple-volunteer outreach.
Ruth Barb has been with the ministry since the beginning. She described its expansion.
“When we started, we only had one room for anything,” she said. “Now it has grown to the fellowship hall, which is almost all of the basement.”
Clothes for many needs are available at the First Warsaw Clothes Closet. Some of these items include: men’s suits; apparel for women; summer clothes; baby clothes; children’s clothing; and shoes. Some household items are also on hand.
First Warsaw receives clothes donations on a regular basis, which can mean three or four times a week, and Benton County Social Services has contacted the church at times for items. On Jan. 7, for example, someone dropped off five trash bags full of children’s clothes.
Clothes vary in quality from very good to unacceptable. Some items still have tags on them at the time of donation. As a general rule, clothes must be in good quality for the church to find them useful. Pastor Danny Decker said if an item does not meet a certain standard, it goes in the trash.
“If we wouldn’t wear it ourselves, we discard it,” Decker said.
On Oct. 24, the Women of Unity and Faith at First Warsaw held the first women’s conference at the church with a theme of “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” based on Luke 3:5-6, where crooked roads are said to become straight and rough paths are made smooth.
A fashion show, which was organized by Arvetta Parrish, was a huge success, according to Conference Supervisor Darlene Price. There also were many DVD presentations which discussed relevant topics and principles.
“The Lord was truly present with us that special day and it was a blessing to all who had set aside that Saturday in October,” Price said.
Due to space constraints, the ministry cannot accommodate larger items such as furniture on a regular basis. However, Pastor Decker said that if the church knows of a need, arrangements can be made to connect the owner of the item to the one in need.
Decker said many people are impacted by the clothing ministry.
“The folks that operate the ministry are all volunteers that love Jesus,” he said. “I have very little physical involvement in it; it’s the volunteers that serve there. It is a ministry of the church; the whole church is involved.”