Holiday store allows customers to give or take
On Saturday morning, David Thornhill and five other volunteers sorted and organized piles of clothing, toys and other items.
The members of western Shawnee’s GracePoint Church largely focused on clothing, so that when they start giving everything away this weekend, items are easy to find. Though some items were harder to sort — Thornhill held up a red, yellow and green baby jacket, eyeing it curiously for a moment.
“Is this for a boy or a girl?” he asked.
The jacket eventually was sorted into the girls’ pile in preparation for Saturday, the opening day of the “take” portion of the church’s ongoing holiday event, the Give & Take, which the church has promoted with the taglines “Let’s do something different this Christmas” and “Christmas help is here.”
“People give things they don’t need anymore, and the take idea is there’s a lot of families out there who’ve lost their jobs and need some help, so they can take what they need,” Thornhill said.
Thornhill, lead pastor for the church, said the idea was nothing new; he had heard of other churches conducting similar events elsewhere in the country, including his parents’ church.
GracePoint began collecting items for the giveaway event three weeks ago. Community members dropped off items 2-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at 22346 W. 66th St., in the Monticello Village shopping center.
Thornhill said most of the donated items have come from people who don’t attend the church.
“So far I’d say 75 percent or more has been from the community, which is pretty great,” he said. “And we estimate we’ll get two or three times what we have now.”
The shopping center donated two storefronts for the church to use. One will be dedicated to clothes, the other to toys, bicycles and household items. Church members built clothing racks and gathered shelves and tables to help store and display all of the donated items.
Thornhill said he’s been impressed by how well everything has come together on such short notice.
“The idea really didn’t land until the first of November, so this really happened quickly,” Thornhill said.
Today will be the last donation-only day; donations will not be taken on Thanksgiving. The church asked that donated items be in good condition, and tax-deductible receipts are available. The only items the church is trying to limit from the event are used stuffed animals, since it’s harder to ensure they are clean, and outdated car seats.
“We’re really asking people to give their best,” Thornhill said. “It’s the time of year where God gave his best to us, so we’d like to give our best to those in need.”
Thornhill added that there is no money involved. The church wants to stick to the simple exchange of items, so church volunteers won’t accept money donations.
“It’s all free; this is not a fundraiser for the church,” he said.
Instead, those hoping to help with the event should donate their time or items or by helping promote the event.
“Whatever God leads them to, we’d love them to come and help,” Thornhill said.
Donations will be accepted through Dec. 11. Saturday will be the first “take” day, and take days will be 8 a.m. to noon and 2 to 8 p.m. Fridays, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, through Dec. 19.
There will be no limit to how much people can take and anyone can take items from the event with no questions asked. But Thornhill said church volunteers would do their best to make sure those taking are taking things they will truly use and not taking items just to resell them.
“We don’t want people to be greedy; we want them to take what they need,” he said.
To promote the “take” days, Thornhill said the church has sent information to social service agencies and school districts and also posted an ad on Craig’s List, along with using social networking Web sites.
While most of the donations have come from the western Shawnee area, Thornhill said the church hopes the “take” days bring in people from all over the Kansas City area. And he hopes some will take advantage of both sides of the event.
“The give and take idea can be for people to give something they don’t need, and take something they do need,” he said.
More information about the event can be found at kcgracepoint.com.