Tag Archives: charity

The Clothing Exchange: Bartering, Giving, Saving & Making A Difference

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You know what I love most about the above photo? Its location.

These folks aren’t camped out waiting to purchase tickets to the newest Batman movie. They’re not waiting to get into the V.I.P. line at a night club nor are they waiting in line to get to their Houston Rockets seats.

This was the scene outside the doors of Eagle Heights Fellowship in Mont Belvieu, TX. This is the Church home of Penny Glass & her three well-rounded, funny, adorable daughters.

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Mrs. Glass created an ingenious bartering system called The Clothing Exchange and it has grown exponentially over the last few years. As a result of her need to provide for her own children she wondered, “What if there was a place where I could give up what we don’t need in exchange for what we do need?” She approached her Pastor and pitched her idea. He fully supported her and gave his permission to use the Church as headquarters for this economically sound solution to clothing needs.

Viola, the Clothing Exchange was born!

How it Works
Many families are having trouble dealing with the current economic climate. They’re struggling to bring home the bacon (in my house it’s veggies). As a result clothing is an area that may be sacrificed in order to keep the family car running, keep electricity on, and stock up on groceries.
The Clothing Exchange allows families and individuals to bring in used but reusable clothes in exchange for a voucher equal to the number of items donated.
So, for example, Molly donates three jeans and five blouses which she’s outgrown-eight items. On exchange day she bring in her voucher and picks out eight items of her choice. She can choose 8 pair of jeans or seven jeans and one blouse or maybe she wants six pair of jeans, one pair of shoes and a scarf. Any combination is allowed as long as she doesn’t exceed eight, the number on her voucher. All participants are made aware that there is no guarantee they’ll find somethung in thier size or something they’ll like. But all are still willing to take part because it means they’ll be donating to others in need even if they get nothng in return. However, according to Penny, there’s never been a situation where a participant couldn’t find clothing they could use.

Simple, smart, effective and very much in need. In fact the need is so great that hundreds of people from miles around came to donate their used clothing in hopes of helping others while providing for their own families. Talk about a win-win situation.

Economic Ripple
So is there a positive economic effect? Most definitely! Most families shop at big department stores. Others, like myself, love thrift stores. When we shop at these locations the money doesn’t always stay within the local economy. Big companies need to spread their profits all over the globe in order to thrive. They have to pay for advertizing, put money into payroll and employee benefits and maintain thier facilities.
The Clothing Exchange allows local money to stay local—in the bank accounts of members of the community. So Mr. J donates his sons old clothes yet comes home with more clothes for his son without spending a single cent. With the savings Mr. J can put more money into an emergency fund or save for his son’s trade school education. Now imagine hundreds of families within a certain area doing the same thing. This creates more economical stability within the region. It makes sense, too, that if a family is more stable they’re able to donate to charities, give to missions and shop at local farmer’s markets. These all help give strength to the local economy.

An important aspect to the Clothing Exchange that builds a strong economy is what Penny does with the clothes that cannot be used in the exchange. See, if donated clothes have rips, tears, stains, etc they’re either given back to the donor, given to other churches or given directly to the homeless. This ensures only clothing of the highest quality are available on Exchange day. Providing the homeless with clothibg has several amazing results. It helps build confidence, gives a sense of added security and it offers an opportunity to excell. Imagine being homeless, sleeping on the streets, unable to shave and shower. Across the street from the box you live in is a NOW HIRING sign in the window of a locally-owned diner. You know you qualify for any open position. You’d work hard and put in extra hours if someone would just give you a chance.
Problem: You don’t feel presentable. And the fact is, most employers won’t hire someone who smells bad and is dressed like….well….a homeless person.

But, if the clothing exchange provided you with a fresh pair of socks, a pair of shoes, nice slacks and a long sleeved shirt and maybe even a tie; well your future could look very different. You can wash up in the restroom of a convemience store, change into your new duds, then walk confidently into that diner and tell them “You sould definitely hire me”.

This is one way a homeless person can become a productive member of society. All because of the generous hearts of Clothing Exchange participants.

Want to Join In?
The next Clothing Exchange event will be in Feb or March of 2016. In the mean time
1. Set aside those items you no longer want or need: shoes, shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, hats, etc.
2. Tell others about this blog so they’re informed on how they may participate.
3. Follow this link to the Clothing Exchange facebook page so you can stay up-to-date on future events-
https://www.facebook.com/groups/237924579719778/?fref=ts

Tiny House Option- Part One: The Problem With The American Mindset

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One day recently I had the TV on as background noise while I got things done around the house and online. A certain real estate show featured a couple who were considering moving due to different issues with their #house. One of the issues was cramped space. Of course the space around us is an important consideration in a home. A kitchen in which you can manuver around each other easily is preferrable to a one-person-only space wherein if the oven is open there’s a danger of both parties getting burned. Issues like the commute to work, distance from schools, Church, friends and family are very important factors when considering a home purchase or selling one’s home in order to move to another house.

As I continued listening to the program I heard a phrase that bothered me. The husband of the couple stated that their bedroom was small by “today’s standard”. Immediately I thought, “Man I was with ya’ until that phrase”.

Here’s the Problem:
Buying a new home should not be influenced by “today’s standards”. That phrase tells me the house hunter is concerned with how his place will compare to his friends, family and neighbors. Exodus 20:17 warns us not to want what our neighbors have. In other words our desire should not be fueled by seeing something our neighbor owns. It should be fuled by a desire to have what God wants to provide then use #His generous gifts to His glory. When we compare what we have to what others are blessed with we essentially tell God two things…

•”What You’ve given me isn’t enough. I want what You gave them”.
•”I know what you’ve given me is part of your plan, but it’s obviously a flawed plan”.

Could you imagine flying into God’s throne room and making those statements directly to Him? Of course not! That would be rude and disrespectful. Yet, when it comes to money and material posessions we think to ourselves that God is supposed update our blessings according to the human standard of the day. Thankfully, that’s not how God operates. God is more concerned with supplying our needs than granting our petty materialistic desires.

When we hold onto the desire to have the shiny toys, big house, fancy cars and coolest electronics we do two things:

First we deprive ourselves of the ability to experience the joy of having less. Most Americans are convinced they “could never live in a Tiny House”. The idea of less space means having less stuff and God forbid they sell the PS4 and the Xbox1. Surely they can’t be expected to survive with only five pair of shoes instead of the twenty five they currently enjoy.

(Don’t get me started on the fact that they haven’t worn eighty percent of those shoes in over three years.)

Sadly we, the human race, have allowed money and stuff to be the source of our joy and happiness in our lives. We feel that if we have to down size we are somehow downgrading or moving backward financially. That mentality is so very off-base.

The second thing we do by holding onto the materialistic mentality is set ourselves up for unnecessary spending. We are daily witness to the fact that those in big houses feel the need to fill those houses with stuff like cars, paintings, clothes, game consoles and games, pool tables, big TVs, an upgraded kitchen, designer furniture, etc. Filling the space is just the beginning of the dominoe effect. Next is being sure all the stuff is maintained, that is followed by upgrading when a newer model is introduced. It’s not hard to see why even those earning tremendous salaries can still end up living paycheck-to-paycheck.

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The Tiny House phenomenon sweeping America has captured my attention partly because it helps us escape the materialistic mentality and therefore helps reduce spending and increase savings.

There are folks in this world with no clothes, food or house. If they had the opportunity to walk into my house right now they’d feel like they had entered a palace.
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A kitchen with a working stove, and fridge, next to a living room where most of us enjoy cable television would be unheard of to many poverty stricken families across the globe. Lying on my memory foam bed would be more than a dream come true. Air conditioning? That’s far beyond their most ambitious dreams! Who am I to tell God that what He’s allowed in my life isn’t enough? If anything we should be saying, “It’s too much for me to keep all to myself. Who can I bless?”

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So when you’re listening to your waterproof shower radio, using your scented body wash and drying off with a freshly washed, 100% cotton towel, you may want to ask yourself: What if I chose the Tiny House Option and lived with less so someone else could have more?

Teen Business Owners-Part Three: Contributing To Society

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There are many reasons why I love to support and highlight small businesses. One of those reasons is the business owner’s contribution to the surrounding community. Bright Balance Ministries believes it is of the utmost importance to expose our teens to the truth of this contribution and, more importantly, show them how they can become a part of it.

The Bible’s account of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 reminds us that everyone we come into contact with is our neighbor and we are all responsible for each other. Also in Matthew 25: 34-40 God speaks of feeding the hungry and clothing those who need it.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. ’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? ’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

So what does Teen Entrepreneurship have to do with taking care of the needy?

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As a small business owner I know the money I earn from doing business with my neighbors stays in my neighborhood. I spend money at the local grocery stores, pawn shops, mechanic, etc. This allows my surrounding community to profit from my earnings. Also, since locally owned small businesses usually charge less I am able to save money for the specific purpose of helping those less fortunate than my wife and I.

Imagine instilling this type of discipline in your teen and adolescent children. Once they learn how to conduct business, they’ll appreciate the effort needed to turn fifteen cents into a dollar. This will help create compassion in their hearts for those who are trapped in the deep pit of poverty. This is one way teenaged Good Samarians are created.

Imagine your child owning a lemonade stand, lawn care business or babysitting service. If they work hard they will gain enough business that they find themselves in need of employees. This is the second way they can contribute to society- creating jobs.

Have you ever noticed that politicians often campaign using the “I will create more jobs” promise? Corporate business owners like Donald Trump desiring to move into a new location often publicize the many jobs they’ll bring to the community. The reason for this is they fully understand how important job creation’s impact is on a community. When you create jobs you create opportunity for financial stability.

Let’s say there is a town with a population of 10,000 people. Imagine that 4,000 of them are unemployed. In this situation 6,000 people work and provide for all 10,000. This is not a perfect analogy but you get the point. This causes strain on those who are employed. There are not enough shoulders to help bear the economic load. But let’s say several members of this population open businesses of varying types and sizes creating three thousand jobs. Now there are only one thousand people unemployed and three thousand additional shoulders have stepped in to help lift the economy. This is economic growth brought on by business owners, not legislature, not law-makers or hand outs but entrepreneurs creating opportunity!!

Did you know the Bible talks about farmers creating opportunity for the poor?

“During the seventh year, let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.” Exodus 23:11

“Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:10

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In both these verses the excess is left for those who cannot provide for themselves. The hard working homeless in our society are willing to do what it takes to get out of their financial slump, we just need to give them the chance to do so.

I can imagine a homeless man who sees the fallen grapes of a vineyard and the untouched potatoes left behind on purpose by a potato farmer. The homeless man gathers these goods, eats a few grapes to satisfy his stomach and then barters with several other fruit and vegetable farmers in exchange for several other ingredients which he then uses to make a large pot of soup. Also imagine that he takes a bowl of soup to the local seamstress and barters for her services. His ripped clothes are now mended. This brings a high level of satisfaction, accomplishment and comfort to someone who lives outside in the harsh weather. Slowly but surely this man moves from the financial desert to financial stability all because the entrepreneurs around him created opportunity for him to pull himself up.

This is a system of generosity in which we should teach our children to participate. We need to imagine a world much better than the one we live in now. Then beg God’s guidance and wisdom in addressing the issues we face. The entrepreneurial attitude needs to be infused into the following generations in order for us to repeat the many successes of our past so that we may more positively affect our futures.