|Everyone was pitching in early Wednesday morning to get the clothes ready for Saturday when Freedom Christian Fellowship kicks off a new program for the community. (L-R) Jordan Fossat, 4, Jennifer Mayfield, Cali Fossat, 8, Keri Mayfield, 12, and Pastor Mike Mayfield carefully fold items.|
The congregation at Freedom Christian Fellowship wanted to connect more with the local community so the members took a close look and found there were basic needs that are out of reach of some residents.
What they found was that many people do not meet the income requirements to receive aid from traditional food banks and that there were people who didn't have enough resources to buy even used clothing.
From their desire to connect sprang the idea to set up a clothes closet and food basket.
"We were kind of sitting back trying to figure out ways to get involved," said Minister Mike Mayfield. "We wanted to do something to benefit the community and meet some unmet needs."
The church's project kicks off on Saturday and anyone in need is welcome, according to Mayfield.
Early Wednesday morning, congregation members were busily sorting, folding and setting clothes on tables in the church's fellowship hall.
Visitors on Saturday will have an easy time heading to the right table to pick out the clothing they may need as the members have gone the extra mile and separated them by size with a sign posted in front of each table.
The launch of the program is starting out modestly with just the clothes closet, but the Freedom's congregation has bigger plans for the future.
The food basket and eventually a soup kitchen are in the works, according to Mayfield.
The food program is expected to have a two-pronged approach - donated items that will be free to people residing in the community.
Eventually, the church plans to provide a once-a-month opportunity for the community to buy a box of food for $30.
Mayfield said his church is trying to work with a program started in Georgia that provides a box filled with everything from meat to vegetables to dessert.
The Angel Food Ministries, was started by Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo in 1994 in Monroe, Ga.
The Georgia program has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of families in 35 states.
However, it has not yet been instituted in the Castle Valley area and Mayfield is trying to get the ministries started.
The idea is to provide anyone who might need it an affordable food source, said the pastor.
"Even the richest residents might find that they are having a few hard months and that they need a little help," said Mayfield. "Angel Food Ministries has no income guidelines."
A sample of the program's menu for one month is displayed on www.angelfoodministries.com and is impressive in the comprehensive variety of items that can be stuffed in a medium-sized box.
In addition, Mayfield said the church wants to open a soup kitchen to ensure that homeless and people who may be struggling due to life circumstances, including substance abuse problems, will have a place to get a meal.
The soup kitchen is still in the planning stages, however, and may take a few months to get up and running, said Mayfield.
The church members are reaching out to businesses in the community with the hope the businesses may be able to find ways to help Freedom Christian further the outreach project.
Amanda Flemmett, a member of the congregation, said Tuesday she has approached several businesses with the idea.
So far, she has received positive response in her mission, said Flemmett.
The outreach project organizers have approached one business with the idea of providing materials for the construction of a small room at the back of the church to use for storage.
"Right now, we are keeping all the clothes in the bathrooms," said Mayfield. "And it's not so great for congregation members when they have to go into them."
Mayfield took over the helm of Freedom Christian in June 2007. He is transplant from Jacksonville, Texas, where he was a pastor for about nine years. Mayfield brings with him an empathy for those in need that is bolstered by personal experience.
"I know how it is," he said. "I was homeless once, sleeping in parks with only two changes of clothing to my name."
As a pastor, he also sees his mission to bring Jesus Christ to people can be done in concrete ways.
"To me, this way is perfect," said Mayfield. "When Jesus went into areas he ministered to their physical needs first, before trying to bring them to the spirit."
Flemmett echoes her pastor's sentiments, pointing out that the church wants to reach out to anyone in need. She emphasized that means even those who may be using drugs and alcohol.
"We are really excited about this (Saturday's event) and we don't care if you used that day as long as you are in need," said Flemmett.
The clothes closet will open at 8 a.m. and run until there's no more takers or everything is gone, said Mayfield.
While the food basket isn't ready to go yet, the church will provide hot dogs and chips to participants and visitors.
Castle Valley residents interested in helping out or donating to the project may stop by Mayfield's house between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily or call the minister at 637-0141.
Mayfield's home is located next door to the church at 550 East 100 South in Price.