- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - In a light green room, an assortment of toys are tucked under the tables while tightly packed racks of clothing sit on top. All the little outfits are neatly sorted for boys and girls according to size from newborn to toddler.

Alecia Bowers, of Dakota Dunes, and a handful of other women have worked to create a shopping experience within their church.

Except, everything is free for families in need.

“Giving kids the best start in life is very important,” Bowers told the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1iL20mF). “We provide free baby clothing and gear and toys, accessories - basically anything you need for a baby besides food.”

Her church in Vermillion, South Dakota, put on a similar program. Inspired by the outreach ministry, Bowers started the Baby Closet in Sioux City.

For two years, CrossPointe Church, at 2300 W. 19th St., has been opening its makeshift store for one hour each month. Moms and dads can browse through baby clothes and accessories.

The Baby Closet will be open from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Community members can drop off donations during that time as well. Accepted items include gently-used baby clothing up to size 2T, blankets, books, toys, cribs, car seats, high chairs and strollers.

When parents come in, they’re invited to write down a list of the top three big-ticket items they need. Baby bouncers, changing tables and similar supplies arrive infrequently and get distributed accordingly.

“Anyone who has kids knows how expensive it is,” Bowers said. “It costs a lot of money to raise children, especially in the first year.”

Child-rearing expenses through age 17 tally up to about $241,080 for middle-income families, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report, “Expenditures on Children by Families.”

On average, Bowers said more than a dozen people benefit from the church’s ministry each month.

Volunteer Naomi Anderson remembers a mom in need of clothes for her 6-month-old who was big enough to wear tops and bottoms for babies twice his age.

She stood out. Anderson connected with the woman because they both had three boys.

“Her smile was just so welcoming,” she said. “When someone comes in, they’re so appreciative, so loving, that just radiates off of them.”

Anderson works in a rotation of volunteers. With three busy boys, she isn’t able to make it every time, she said. Bowers, however, is there every month.

Another volunteer, Stacey DeBoer, said she admires Bowers’ charity.

“She’s got to be so proud to do something enriching for other families,” DeBoer said.

Bowers, the Baby Closet founder and coordinator, quickly deflected the praise back to her helpers, saying it wouldn’t be a success without them.

A generous community helps, too, she said.

Families with no ties to the church show up with boxes of baby clothes, providing showers of blessings for mothers in need.

“Something as simple as a few outfits can make a world of difference to somebody,” Bowers said.

___

Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide