MANATEE — An estimated 50,000 pounds of clothing will be given away today during an event sponsored by The Source Church.
“Our whole goal is to be real, and give people practical tools to help them walk with God,” explained Joanne Hoehne, co-pastor of the nondenominational church. “We believe we’re called to affect our own communities first.”
Friday, volunteers sorted through a mountain of plastic bags loaded with every imaginable type of garment: A velvet cocktail dress, giant mens’ shirts, roller skates, tiny kid blue jeans, and even some items with designer labels.
In one pile, they tossed toys that will be saved for a similar giveaway around Christmas; in another, they discarded ripped or worn items that will be shredded and sold.
She said she hears many stories about people whose children own just one outfit.
“We’re hoping people will show up, because we’ve got to get this clothing out,” Hoehne laughed as she continued to sort.
The giveaway is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. at the church at 1905 72nd Drive E., near the intersection of Whitfield Avenue and U.S. 301. Participants will be asked to register, but just as a way to maintain order.
“Otherwise, it would be chaos,” said church administrator Ashley Delph.
The clothing came from various sources, said co-pastor Ralph Hoehne. He said some of it came from a man in Sarasota who called him and said, “‘I’ve got four warehouses full of clothes — can you help me get rid of it?’”
“We decided this is 10,000 square feet here, let’s just get tables,” recalled Hoehne.
“We took probably two-thirds of it.”
The church, with about 250 members, also plans to give away donated bread and other food it has collected, he said.
Stacy Thomas, 35, of Palmetto, an assisted living caregiver, was helping to sort clothing in advance of the giveaway.
“I need to give back to my church and community,” she said in explaining why she had volunteered.
‘“I’ve had help; you’ve got to return it. It’s actually very rewarding to be here.”
For information, call (941) 592-4700, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.