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Starting a clothing ministry can be a huge undertaking. The size of the ministry will depend on how well it is promoted and how much you get in clothing donations. It is important to have a plan before you begin. If you have the help and cooperation of others, the clothing ministry shouldn't cost you a lot of money to get started. It will, however, take a great deal of time. It will take time to plan, but also to follow through on. Although volunteers are always around, the person who starts a ministry tends to be the first one in the door and the last one to leave.
How to Start a Clothing Ministry
Find a storage location. This could be in your home, at your church or in a rented or donated space. You need an area large enough to accept donations, sort the clothes and store the clothes. If you have the space and the manpower, you can store the clothes as if they were in a store on racks. Otherwise, you can simply sort the clothes by gender or size and keep them in bins or piles.
Collect volunteers. You'll need people to: help sort clothes donations; help when people come to get clothes; make sure people are properly thanked for their help and generosity; and to keep track of records if you decide to have people register when they pick up clothes.
Ask for donations. Make announcements at various churches and community organization meetings, put a notice in the paper and place flyers around town. Let people know why you are collecting clothes and where they can bring their donation. Designate one day a week or a month for people to be able to drop off clothes, or set up clothing bins where people can drop off clothes at any time.
Create a system to keep track of who comes in for clothes, how many people are in their family, and what they need. This will help you to better fill the need of the people in your community. It will also help you to stop people from taking advantage of the generosity of others. You'll also need to decide if people can just drop in or if they will need a social service referral.
Contact local social service organizations, such as the Salvation Army to get the word out to people who are in need of clothes. Set times when people can come to pick out clothes. Get the word out through local churches and organizations and put a notice in the local events section of your newspaper.
Make sure you have the location and the volunteers to help before you advertise for clothing donations. You don't want to be overwhelmed with a project bigger than you expected. Create a schedule in advance for dates to collect donations, sort donations and give out clothes so your volunteers can sign up for available time slots.
There are people who try to take advantage of hand-outs designed for those in need. Don't be discouraged or jaded when you run into those people. That is why a lot of organizations designed to help the needy only accept people with a social service referral, or they register people to make sure they don't come too often or take too much.
Melanie Williamson graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She worked for four years as a college writing tutor. During that time she proofread and edited academic papers. She works as a professional freelance writer and writes for a variety of websites. In April 2011 she published her first book on resume writing.