good works ENCORE
Underwear for Christmas!
Ministry with Community wants the gift many of us dread by
person in crisis may need housing, a job or legal assistance. But before anything, that person needs something much simpler. “Many of us will never find ourselves in a situation where we don’t have the basic necessities,” such as a bar of soap, a shower, underwear or socks, says Rob Oakleaf, executive director of the downtown Kalamazoo nonprofit Ministry with Community. “Yet most of us count on those necessities to feel human.” That’s why Ministry with Community hosts an annual Underwear Open House — to gather such necessities and present them as Christmas gifts to the people Ministry serves. This year’s event — the 14th annual Underwear Open House, which is open to the public — is set for 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Lawrence Education Center, on the Borgess Medical Center campus. Attendees are asked to bring donations of new, unwrapped underwear, socks, thermal underwear, T-shirts, sweatshirts, flannel shirts, hats, gloves and scarves — in adult sizes only, including extra large. Up the Creek Jazz Band will perform at the event, which will include raffles, hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Donations are accepted at Ministry with Community before and after the event as well. Last year, Oakleaf says, the Underwear Open House collected more than 2,000 pounds of clothing, which provided more than 1,000 gifts — a figure that Oakleaf recognizes is impressive. “Every year we depend on the public to have enough clothing to give to every person in need on Christmas Day, and every year we get it,” he says. “We’re very lucky.” For Kalamazoo area residents who find themselves in emergency situations with no food, home or resources, Ministry with Community offers a safe haven. Those who use Ministry services are considered “members.” “We view ourselves as being the place you go when you’re experiencing a life emergency, like you’re going to starve,” says Laurie Terlesky, development director. “We’re going to help you with your emergency needs right when you come in, that same day.” The Ministry with Community members’ center offers everything a person would need if he or she were homeless: hot showers, toiletries, lockers, phones, a Loaves and Fishes food pantry, a fax machine, mailing service and connections to other services in Kalamazoo.
16 | Encore NOVEMBER 2013
Having underwear, socks and other necessities donated makes Ministry with Community’s executive director, Rob Oakleaf, and development director, Laura Terlesky, very happy.
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