Tag Archives: love

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

Grace And The Rough Draft

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On January 30th, 2014 I received a very unexpected email from Grace Centered Magazine. With a wrinkled forehead I opened the letter and read very exciting news. They were willing to accept me as a contributing writer on their site. I did my happy dance, thanked God over and over and over, smiled, grinned and posted the good news on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Then, still grinning from ear to ear, I thanked God some more!

While the laid-back, celebratory side of me threw a one-man party the practical side of me reared its annoying head saying, “Hey you, with the cheesy smile, I don’t remember sending that email. In fact I don’t remember ever polishing it to a professional level, worthy of presentation at all!”

(man that guy’s a kill joy)

I ended the celebration and investigated my email Draft folder. It wasn’t there. I went to my Sent folder, found it and discovered my “Mr. Practical” side was right. (he gloated, of course) See, I had not finished dotting my i’s and crossing my Ts. Most of the information required by the GCM staff was in the email but I had intended to include my bio, a few photos and another blog as an example of my writing style. But, apparently God had other plans because I accidentally sent the email without realizing it.

This got me thinking:

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The staff at GCM saw a good fit despite my opinion that the email was not worthy of presentation. In my mind it wasn’t good enough, it was flawed, lacking and needed improvement. Isn’t that what we tell The Father? “Well God, I’m not good enough to go to Church. Let me fix a few things about myself then I’ll come serve you. I’m definitely not good enough to greet people at the Church doors. Sing in the chior? Me? I don’t have a pretty voice like that girl does, no way!”

Have you ever noticed how flawed and unworthy of presentation the heroes of the Bible were?

In Judges 14:1-3 we see Samson was a womanizing brute (I’ll confess, that gives me hope).

Paul was on a mission to kill all Christians as seen in Acts 9:2. This former torturer wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 concerning a weakness he asked God to take away from him but verse nine tells us Christ’s reply: Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Paul expressed his understanding by saying, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me”.

Moses murdered an Egyptian,(Exodus 12:12) Nathanael was a bit racist (John 1:46) and Peter was quick to get rowdy with a sword (John 18:10) The harlot Rahab, rescued from Jericho, is recorded in Matthew 1:1-16 in Jesus’ genealogy. By no means were these Biblical figures polished, perfect, clean-cut or “worthy of presentation” to a Holy, perfect God. But, in His infinite wisdom, He used them anyway. Wow!!

We’re all rough drafts. We have weaknesses, flaws, lusts and skeletons in our closet. We want to do good but fail just as Paul spoke of in Romans 7:15-20. Our good intentions pave the road of failure we so often walk. We contradict our own belief system, stab each other in the back and throw temper tantrums in our supposedly adult years. But, just as God used an adulterous, murderer like king David, He can use you and I. All we have to do is make ourselves available. Come to Him with an honest, open heart. Show Him your flaws and shortcomings and let Him smooth the rough patches. He is more than willing and able to use you just as you are.

Financial matters are no different. We’ll make mistakes, we’ll fail and we may not bring home what we think is enough money. But what we consider “enough” to be used by God, may be more than enough in His eyes. God does not depend on our limited, flawed perspective. His decisions concerning our financial futures are not limited to what we consider possible, reasonable or logical. Thankfully He works outside that….WAY OUTSIDE THAT!

So go ahead, hit the Send button!

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Head on over to Grace Centered Magazine and enjoy their many great articles: http://www.gracecentered.com