January 14, 2009 Edition

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Community support
vital for Shepherd Care



Willene Austin of Hoxie (left) and Maxine Powers of Walnut Ridge volunteer Monday sorting clothing at Shepherd Care, a clothing ministry that serves Lawrence County.

Frank Witowski Jr.
Staff Writer

"When you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me." The Scripture teaches Christians to clothe and feed the poor. Residents in Lawrence County can fulfill this mission by donating clothing or monetary gifts to Shepherd Care at 710 Highway 67B in Walnut Ridge.

Leroy Scudder of the Lawrence County Ministerial Alliance said the idea for the ministry was born by members of a Walnut Ridge First Free Will Baptist Sunday school class several years ago. The class began collecting items for the needy and the demand quickly outgrew the space provided.

Rev. Steve Trail, then pastor of First Free Will Baptist, was over the operations of the endeavor, and he approached the Ministerial Alliance for support. "From there, we rented the building," Scudder said. According to Scudder, the ministry has operated at the current site for approximately seven years.

"The purpose from its inception was to provide clothing, which includes shoes, for the needy," Scudder said. "The range of clothing would run from infants to adults."

The ministry helped approximately 2,000 households in 2008. Scudder said it is estimated that approximately 4,000 individuals received clothing through Shepherd Care last year.

Individuals who qualify by referral, either by DHS, BRAD or area ministers, are able to select clothing from more than 40 racks of good clothing and have the opportunity to fill a 33-gallon plastic bag with items for their household. Clients are allowed to visit Shepherd Care once a month to obtain clothing.

Scudder said the facility is almost filled to capacity with good clothing, and if there was more room in the building, they could expand. There is currently a great demand for infant to preschool age clothing, he added.

Shepherd Care is manned strictly by volunteers. It is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. During operational hours, anywhere from three to six volunteers are hard at work, sorting out clothing donated by the community. "We screen what comes in and only put out clean, usable items," Scudder said.

Unusable items in poor condition are put in a room in the back of the building and are picked up weekly by an outlet ministry called Oasis, located in Jonesboro. Oasis bales the items and ships them overseas to needy countries.

Clothing, monetary donations needed

Shepherd Care is constantly in need of monetary donations to cover expenses, such as rent and utilities, associated with the ministry. "We're in need of consistent monthly contributions for the costs of operations, which is roughly $750 a month," Scudder said.

"We're strictly dependant on the contributions of the community, which includes churches and individuals."

All monetary donations are tax deductible, and tax deductible receipts will be given on site. Since the first of the year, Imboden EHC donated $100 to Shepherd Care and Tony and Becky Webbe donated $25.

Clothing donations can be given during operational hours or put in a drop box outside the building. Scudder encouraged people to strictly donate clothing items to the ministry, as opposed to such items as toys or dishes. He hopes individuals will only donate clothing that they would wear themselves.

Sheets, linens, blankets and other bedding in good condition are kept in a special area to give to families who are burned out of their homes.

"We're grateful to those who donate," Scudder said. "It is fortunate that as the need for clothing has grown, the community has responded."

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