NORMAN — Lexington First Baptist Church has been helping those in need through their Clothes Closet Ministries for years.
After recent wildfires swept the area earlier this month, donations of clothes for all ages and sizes, shoes, purses, backpacks, toys, household items and more flooded into the church to help those who suffered loss during the fires.
The items are available to anyone and everyone, “even if people have to drive here from Luther,” said Jimmie Landers, founder of Clothes Closet Ministries. The items are set up in the church’s gym which is “literally filled,” she said.
“The ladies (church members) have been working ever since the fires happened,” Landers said.
While the church has an abundance of supplies for the victims, they are asking for donations of clothing racks, to borrow or keep, in order to display the donations.
“We use department store-type racks and we use plastic hangers,” she said.
When they have people in need come to the church, she said they do not want them to feel like second-class citizens. The items donated are sorted through, and unfit items are discarded.
“If I wouldn’t want to wear it, I wouldn’t assume anybody else would want to wear it, either,” Landers said. “We treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
They also don’t put out any items that would misrepresent the church, such as T-shirts that are “risqué,” she said.
They have received donations from members of the church, the Slaughterville First Baptist Church and fire departments serving Maysville, Purcell and Tecumseh. The items will stay at the church for fire victims as long as they are needed, which could be mid-October.
Sharing donations: When the church has an over-abundance of items, Landers said they take them to the Jesus House, which serves the homeless and needy in Oklahoma City. With the recent fire that destroyed the Jesus House warehouse, she said they are planning to donate items to them.
“They lost everything,” she said.
History of Clothes Closet Ministries: Landers started the Clothes Closet in the guest bedroom of her house five years ago. It later moved to the church, where it occupied four tables in a Sunday School classroom.
“It’s grown into what it is now,” she said.
Other members of the church also have joined Landers in organizing the ministries, including Barbara Green and Charlotte Guillion. The women continue to sort through numerous donated items received after the wildfires.
“We love to serve the Lord. This is His ministry, not ours,” Landers said.
Throughout the year, the ministry typically provides school supplies before school starts, including new shoes, underwear and socks. In October, they have a coat giveaway, as well as quilts and bedding. In December, Christmas toys are given out. Children also are allowed to get gifts for their parents, she said.
The Clothes Closet Ministries is usually open the second Saturday every month from 10 a.m. to noon at the church’s Family Life Center. Donations can be made from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at the church.
The ministry serves around 75 families a month.