The Caring Place: Helping families of the community

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Brenda Peppers and Kim Reese volunteer to sort clothing donations to get them ready for those who will come to Northeast Church’s monthly outreach, The Caring Place.

BY KATIE JUSTICE, kjustice@clickthepaper.com

The Caring Place, a ministry of the Northeast Church in Braselton, can be no better described than by its very own name.

During the first Wednesday of every month, members of the church, along with community volunteers, dedicate a part of their day to helping those in need in the community. For three hours, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., volunteers provide local families with food, clothes and even a haircut if they’d like.

“It takes a lot to get this done in a three-hour period,” said Theresa Smith, who has been working with the effort, which began in 2000, for years.

When I first started five years ago, it was basically the same 30-40 families every month. Now it’s nothing to get 25-30 new families a month,” said Smith, of the growing need in the community.

On average, The Caring Place serves more than100 families a month, which Smith says actually means they’re helping between 400 and 500 people each month.

Haircuts and styles are provided at The Caring Place thanks to those, including church volunteer Carla Lawson.

Each family that comes to the church receives a box with 25 pounds of food and the opportunity to walk through the clothes room to pick out whatever clothes they need. They may receive Christian counseling from Hope for the Hungry, a Christian ministry based in Cumming, and a haircut in the salon as well if they’d like.

In addition to the usually services, The Caring Place spreads some Christmas joy during its December ministry with families receiving turkey for a special holiday meal. Also, families with children were able to get some slightly used toys to go under the tree for Christmas morning.

“We’re just trying to provide a complete Christmas for those we can,” said Starla Harbin, wife of the Rev. Russell Harbin.

In addition to the monthly ministry, Northeast Church is also participating in Devin’s Stocking, a project started by Susan McDowell. Her son Devin McDowell dreamed of helping children once he grew up, however, Devin was killed in a car crash in 2002.

To honor his memory, Susan started Devin’s Stocking, which provides Christmas gifts to children in the community, who may otherwise not receive any presents.

Haircuts and styles are provided at The Caring Place thanks to those, including community volunteer Thomas Gref, who works at Platinum Salon in Braselton.

Families filled out applications and an estimated 150 children will receive clothes and toys this Christmas thanks to Devin’s Stocking.

Devin’s Stocking only happens once a year, but The Caring Place is open monthly, and receives donations year round.

Right now, the biggest need is men’s clothing.

“Men don’t tend to get rid of their clothes as often as women do,” said Smith.

In addition to men’s clothes, the church is accepting donations of any type of clothing, nonperishable foods and baby supplies such as diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.

Donations can be dropped off Saturday through Thursday at the Northeast Church office at 2001 Cherry Drive in Braselton. For more information, call 706-654-3205.