There are many aspects to building a supportive church community, and among those are meeting the needs of members by providing them with relief, hope, and prayer. According to MLive, in Mattawan, Michigan, a ministry of Cavalry Reformed Church has been providing services for those in their community who are going through tough challenges. One service that has helped change lives is ‘Jody’s Closet,’ which provides free clothing to over 4,000 people each year.
Named after former volunteer Jody Alzner who passed away in 2019, Jody’s Closet began as a collection of items that were stored in bins throughout the Sunday school rooms for the public to take what they need. Once Jody was able to find a space to set up the ‘closet,’ there were often lines stretching all around the building. Now, with the help of generous donations from the church, community members, and grants, Jody’s Closet will have its own space in a newly built 3,500 square-foot addition behind the church.
Co-founder Sue VanHeukelom shared that she hopes community members in need will connect with the ministry as awareness of its expansion spreads. She also hopes that community members who can donate items will do so to help support the growth of Jody’s Closet and their neighbors in need. Jody’s Closet is always accepting donations of clean, gently used or new clothing in all sizes including shoes, interview suits, coats, boots, and baby clothes. Co-founder Faith Comerford praised the community’s support sharing that Jody’s Closet would not be able to exist without their generosity and thoughtfulness.
Jody’s Closet’s namesake added one extra special touch to the experience. VanHeukelom shared that Jody would have envelopes with cash in her pocket and did not really know how much was in each, but would pray and then walk up to somebody shopping in Jody’s Closet and hand them the envelope saying “you need this.”
According to Greg VanHeukelom, “it’s about building relationships and community.” He explained that volunteers working with the ministry are trained to “talk with people, listen to the hard issues, and pray if someone needs a prayer.” Supporters of Jody’s Closet are not just spreading kindness, they are sharing the uplifting message to those who need to hear it that they are loved, prayed for, and that goodness will always shine its light casting out the darkness of whatever challenges people may be experiencing. With God’s love and the compassion of the members of the community, Jody’s Closet is changing lives by making a difference for both the people in need and those who give what they have to others.