McDowell County communities are invited to Cross United Methodist Church on Saturday, Aug. 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., to drop off donations of new or gently-used baby clothes (sizes preemie to 5T), shoes, activity gear, strollers, high chairs, cribs, bassinets, bottles, pack-n-plays, diapers, wipes/hygiene products.

This is the second annual community baby shower for the Teens for Christ B.E.A.R. (Baby Equipment and Resource Closet). It is an ongoing effort to sustain this one-of-a-kind outreach that serves low-income families who are expecting babies, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster parents and any family struggling to make ends meet by providing them with everyday basic necessities for free.

At the baby shower, there will be resource tables with information for organizations like Circle of Parents, volunteering at the senior center and more. A hot dog meal will be available for a $5 donation, plus T-shirts for $20. There will be a craft table for tie-dying and a silent auction.

Since the B.E.A.R. Closet began nearly a year ago it has made quite an impact in the community. The closet has served 92 families and 144 children, provided nearly 700 diapers and over 300 pieces of clothing, shoes and equipment. In addition, 70 children served last year were provided gifts of clothing, toys, a coat and coloring books as part of the 2018 Adopt-a-Bear Baby event.

What makes this outreach so unique is that it is led by teens in the Cross Mill area with oversight from Youth Director Philista Gossett and other volunteers.

“Our church, volunteers and teens recognized the need in our community and were eager to reach out and somehow meet the need,” Gossett said. “Givens Life Ministries in Asheville provided us with guidance in developing the outreach, organizing its operation and launch. We have five dedicated teens and six adult volunteers that provide oversight to the outreach. We also have several community partnerships that have made donations to help sustain the ministry for which we are truly grateful. We have even served a couple of families in Spruce Pine and Morganton. It is so rewarding that the B.E.A.R. Closet can provide families with a few basic necessities like clothing, diapers and baby equipment which give them a few extra dollars in their pocket, which can be redirected to other needs like food, gas or medicine. It’s a very practical way to share the love of Christ with our neighbors while building a stronger, healthier community.”

Those who drop off donations during the baby shower are invited to tour the outreach. Equipment donations should be clean, and in new or gently-used condition with no needed repairs or missing parts. Volunteers will be available to unload donations. Monetary donations are also welcomed and checks can be made out to Cross UMC and earmarked for the B.E.A.R. Closet.

Business hours for the closet are the first and third Wednesday of each month from 4-6:30 p.m., and the second and fourth Wednesday from 9-11 a.m. For more information, or if you interested in volunteers, call 803-8790 or email TeensforChristBEARcloset@yahoo.com.

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