Outreach Center labors to keep kids, families warm this winter
By Lori Szepelaklori@thereminder.com
AGAWAM – On a recent cold afternoon, volunteers for the Good Samaritan Outreach Center at Bethany Assembly of God made a plea for donations of warm clothing, especially for children.
As the temperatures start to dip across our region, there are children and adults who do not have enough warm clothing in their closets, according to Bethany Assembly of God Executive Pastor Timothy N. Reed.
“In town we have several poverty stricken areas where immigrants lack basic necessities like warm clothing and especially shoes,” Reed said during an interview with Reminder Publications.
During a recent visit to the center, Maria Kretschmer, coordinator of the adult clothing section along with Carla Metzler, noted the center is in particular need of winter coats, shoes and boots, slacks, sweaters and active wear for men and women.
“If someone is in need, we are here to help them,” she said.
Kretschmer stressed that the center does not accept household items, only clothing and linens in good or excellent condition.
“We have a sorting area where each item goes through a rigorous inspection,” she said. “We are fussy; we want people to be happy with the items they leave with.”
For more than 30 years, the church has offered this service, which allows area residents in need to browse the racks and shelves and take several items home at no charge.
The maintenance building adjacent to the church at 580 Main St. houses the center which is open the second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 1 to 2 p.m. The volunteers meet with clients during registration, which starts at 12:15 p.m. On average, the women noted that up to 25 people may stop in to check out the offerings.
“We especially see young families in need,” Kretschmer said.
In the children’s section of the center, the shelves and racks were sparse with empty hangers waiting to be covered – flanked by a few stuffed animals, books and toys.
Helen Bodurtha, who oversees the children’s section, said that she would love to see her shelves “brimming” with colorful picture books, toys, mittens, winter jackets and sweaters. Packages of diapers are also welcomed.
“We check everything that is donated to be sure it is in good condition,” she said.
In addition to the winter clothing, the women noted that socks, new or clean undergarments, purses, belts, and gloves are also welcomed.
In addition, the center offers blankets, sheets, towels, curtains, bedspreads and linens, which are especially helpful when someone in need has been evicted or burned out of their home.
“I’m amazed that there is always something here to offer at the center,” Reed said. “Area residents always answer the call.”
Area residents making donations can request a tax receipt when they are dropping off items.
“We can store seasonal clothing too,” said Bodurtha.
For more information, call the church office at 789-2930.