Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
=It's been a busy summer for Joseph's Coat, a clothing ministry through the First Baptist Church with origins in a simple desire to help some teens who didn't have any school clothing 3 years ago.
Since then, the ministry, which offers clothing free of charge to those in need, has grown exponentially. After outgrowing 2 other buildings, the ministry finally found its home at 417 Main St.
Joseph's Coat has also changed from a call-as-needed service to a store front with set hours when it is open to the public, Joseph's Coat Director Patti Waibel said.
New hours for visiting the ministry to make a donation or to "shop" for needed outfits are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
"If there are people who can't come because they are working, they can call to make an appointment and we will meet them there," Waibel said.
This summer though, the need in the community has outstripped the supply for children's summer clothing, she said
"We are trying to gear up for back to school clothes," Waibel said. "We usually get busy in August but this summer we have been averaging helping about 70 families per month, who each may receive up to 3 outfits per person."
That run on clothing has left the usually robust supplies a little lacking, she said.
According to Waibel, it is difficult to pinpoint why this summer saw so much more need than in summers past.
"I just really don't know. What I know is that we are helping families who are here temporarily, who may be looking for work or just found work and need clothing for work," she said. "Last year, we were helping a family living in a tent in someone's back yard all summer."
While Waibel believes the economy appears to be doing better here, she also knows the price of food and other necessities has increased and that makes it burdensome to pay for additional expenses such as school clothing.
While Joseph's Coat has had ample supplies throughout the last year, especially after the tornado a year ago, they are in dire need of children's shorts and other summer clothing. The ministry also needs regular donations to restock shelves throughout the year.
"Right now, we are down to a hand full of shorts for boys and girls and they will be needing to wear these summer clothes for another 2 months," Waibel said. "We also need new underwear and socks in all sizes, including adult sizes."
Running a ministry of this sort has been immensely gratifying for Waibel. But it has come with some stress over the last year, which could have been overwhelming had it not been for some 12 other community volunteers who stepped up, she said.
"It became crazy here last year after the tornado and we are a totally volunteer staff; no one gets paid to work for Joseph's Coat," she said. "We had so many donations and they were brining them to the church and Living Word Fellowship and they were just pouring out the door we had so many."
"We were sorting through it all and giving away as much of it as we could to other ministries," she said.
At around that same time, Waibel said she fell off a stage while at her church and broke her ankle, leaving her totally out of commission for more than three months.
"I was on non-weight bearing orders for 3 months and other people had to step in and take over for me," she said.
That was when Robin Gunter of Woodward came to the rescue, she said.
"She (Gunter) did a really great job," she said. "And I guess I also learned something about myself. I tend to be one of those people who wants it done just exactly so and I found out that I wasn't there and everything still got done."
For information about how to donate or get needed clothing call the First Baptist Church at 256-2837.