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By LORRIE KINKADE
The Trimble Banner
There are hanging racks filled with men’s pants, women’s dresses, children’s clothes and warm winter coats. Household items, including microwaves, bed sheets and knick-knacks, fill one room, while colorful children’s toys are available in another.
The only thing physically distinguishing this small Bedford shop from consignment stores in the area is the absence of a cash register.
Customers at Sparrow Ministries, located in the former I.O.O.F Lodge building on U.S. 42 in Bedford, do not pay cash for items they take home. Instead, they give thanks, smiles and sometimes tears of appreciation for the necessities offered to them.
Although she first thought God had sent her to neighboring homes to evangelize, ministry founder Donna Hale said she soon realized He was calling her to do more.
“People don’t know how their neighbors are living. I went to their homes and saw the need. I knew then that God had a different plan for me,” Hale said.
She said many of the people she met were living without necessities such as pots and pans and shoes that fit. Some were too busy struggling to put food on the table and keep their children in decent clothing to worry about replacing worn out bedding or their own thread-worn clothes.
So with God’s guidance, and the support of her husband, Donald, and sons Jonathan, Michael and David, Hale devised a plan to help.
People in Trimble and surrounding counties can now find everything they need to care for themselves and their families at Sparrow Ministries. Staffed with volunteers and open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon until 3 p.m., the shop allows clients to select up to five outfits for each member of their household, along with one box of household items. Each shopper may return once every three months.
“It truly is a blessing for the people who come here. And for me, too,” volunteer Sharon Riley said last week as she sorted donations at the shop. “I look at these baby clothes and imagine how pretty these little babies will look and how happy their mothers will be to have them.”
Though donations have steadily risen since the ministry began two months ago, so have the number of people seeking help.
“As the economy gets worse and people hear about us, more people are coming in. We added 100 new customers last month. Right now we really need pants for kids and adults. And larger size women’s clothing,” Hale said.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “It was totally out of the blue, but God knows what we need and he shows us the path.”
To make a donation to Sparrow Ministries, contact Hale at (502) 758-3410 or stop by the shop at the corner of U.S. 42 and Lawson Avenue during regular business hours. All donations to the 501c3 organization are tax deductible.