Pinson Memorial UMC youth collect clothes to change the world


Photo courtesy of Wright Gazaway and WALB

By Kara Witherow, Editor

On Saturday mornings, most typical teenagers are sleeping in, surfing the web, or spending time with friends.

But not youth from Sylvester’s Pinson Memorial United Methodist Church. 

Inspired by their study of the mission and ministry of Jesus in Rev. Mike Slaughter’s “Change the World” Bible study, the youth prayerfully and thoughtfully considered how they could meet a need in their community. 

“We thought, ‘If Pinson Methodist Church were to go away tomorrow, would anyone in the community know that we were gone?’” said Jared Thompson, Pinson Memorial UMC’s director of children and youth. “Are we going out in the community and making enough of a difference that people are seeing Christ in what we do? Are we serving and sharing Christ’s love?”

The entire church participated in the “hard-hitting” study, Thompson said, but the youth studied it in their own small group and, once they finished, decided that a clothing ministry was how they could best serve their community.

After collecting more than 3,000 pieces of gently used clothing, on Saturday, Jan. 30 they welcomed more than 30 patrons to the opening of their new clothes closet. 

Clients can fill large brown paper shopping bags full of pants, shirts, coats, clean undergarments, and shoes for $1 per bag. Charging a small amount helps preserve the customer’s dignity and, since the ministry isn’t supported by the church’s budget, all proceeds help offset the ministry’s costs. If a client isn’t able to pay, the items are given free of charge.

The youth plan to open the clothing ministry from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month, as long as they continue to receive donations and there’s a need in the community.

Reagan Shealey, a 16-year-old junior at Worth County High School, was one of the youth who gave up her Saturday to serve.

An active member of the youth group, she and her family cleaned out their closets and donated several items of clothing to the ministry.

“It’s our calling as Christians to try and help as many people as we can and spread the word of Christ through our acts of love,” she said. “And it felt special because I wasn’t doing something for myself for once. We all have a tendency to just think about ourselves, but being able to help people who don’t have as much … it felt good that we were able to help them.”

Thompson said that there is a hunger within the youth to serve the community, and they hope by helping meet the physical needs of people in the community they can help meet the spiritual needs, as well.

“They have a great desire to serve,” he said. “One of the biggest things we’ve been talking about as a youth group is what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13 … how love is more of an action than a feeling, and that our agape love, our sacrificial love, should flow out of everything we do. So that’s what they’re trying to live out. They’re trying to live out their love for others and trying to figure out what it means to be a true disciple of Christ.”

Changing the world. One person – one pair of pants – at a time.

“They could have been anywhere else on a Saturday morning, but chose to be here at the church serving and loving on the people who came,” Thompson said.