- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (AP) - An Iron Mountain couple has been working continuously over the past 15 years to make sure that clothing and blankets are sent to children who are homeless or are in orphanages around the world.

Married for 60 years, Virginia and Richard Williams have been collecting and sending items that have helped to reach children in 16 different countries, The Daily News (https://bit.ly/1wlT1jJ ) reported.

And now they are continuing to gather clean, good quality clothing, as well as blankets, comforters, mattress pads and colorful sheets. Warm winter clothing, including sweaters, sweatshirts, pants, jackets and snow pants, boots, mittens, and hats, is also needed.

“Shoes and socks and sleeping bags are also accepted and appreciated,” Virginia said.

The Williamses expressed their appreciation to the community for past donations.

These donations helped to fill two semi-trucks, which went to Tuscaloosa, Alabama after tornadoes devastated that area, in one day. One semi was also sent to Joplin, Missouri after a tornado hit that area.

The donations that went to both Alabama and Missouri, and after Hurricane Katrina, were more of a community event with semi-trucks being loaded at Grede Foundry. They added that there was a lot of publicity after those storms hit and a great outpouring of help arrived.

All of the other donations over the years have been dropped off at their shipping facility, located at Cobweb Antiques in Iron Mountain.

The Williamses began this mission of providing clothing and other items to the needy after being inspired by a devotional in Guideposts magazine. The magazine publishes stories of people who share their personal experiences, as well as providing inspirational messages.

Virginia and Richard Williams were inspired after they read that article, and they wanted to see what they could do with the help of the local community to reach children in need.

The first recipient of clothing was an orphanage in Romania run by a woman who authored that devotional in Guideposts.

And through the years they have worked with Orphan’s Promise, a ministry of the Christian Broadcasting Network. They have reached orphanages in Eastern Europe, South America, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Another need responded to in 2008 was a shipment of cold weather children’s clothing that was sent to an orphanage in Peru due to severe weather.

The Williamses continue to fill 40 foot containers that can be shipped overseas. They have a container that they are filling on an ongoing basis to meet the needs of children in so many areas — from homeless in Detroit to children in Romania.

The clothes they collect range in age from babies through teens.

During the many years they’ve organized these collections, the Williamses have been encouraged by the response they’ve received from people dropping off donations as well as wanting to help load and sort the items.

And with the help of the community, they plan to continue with this mission of serving the needs of children throughout the world — one piece of clothing at a time — until the container is filled.

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Information from: The Daily News, https://www.ironmountaindailynews.com

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