It’s easy, living amid the affluence of Woodbury, to forget that there are many people in our community who lack access to basic needs including food and clothing. Members of Woodbury Lutheran Church, home to the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf, recognized this firsthand. In 2004, church member Lori Nixon founded the Christian Closet after she saw the need for additional donated items to work in tandem with the food shelf. Today it’s an important ministry of the church, offering clothing and shoes to people who come through the Christian Cupboard.
“The food shelf has been operating for over 30 years, and people would sometimes donate clothing, which Lori ended up putting on a table, and it kept expanding. Now we have over 15 racks of clothing and tables full of goods,” says Gloria Johnson, who has been leading and coordinating the effort since 2012. “The Lord just keeps blessing us.” The Closet also offers household items such as bedding, pots and pans, towels and Christian books, as well as baby items and toys.
Through the Christian Closet, 20 to 30 church members volunteer on rotating shifts to hang up clothes, organize household items and assist people who come in to find items they need-- for free. The Closet is open each Friday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for shoppers who stop by the food shelf.
“I was drawn to volunteer after seeing the need posted in the bulletin at church,” says volunteer Krista deZeeuw. “One man came in looking for an Easter dress for his little girl and, surprisingly, we had one. It was so fulfilling that we could help him, and his daughter could feel proud to wear it to church. We also had a man come in, and his shoes were literally falling apart; we were able to find some shoes to fit him, so he was able to take better care of his feet.”
“The Christian Closet also allows the volunteers to share the good news of Jesus with people who come in, which is something the food shelf cannot do with federal funding,” says pastor Tim Marshall, head of care ministries at Woodbury Lutheran. As many as a hundred households are served each week.
The Closet also has a “bundle of joy” ministry where expectant moms who are members of the Christian Cupboard can get some help with a bag of baby items. “We also gather as a group and pray over the mom and the precious little baby,” says Johnson, who explains that they also partner with local nonprofit New Life Services to connect donated baby items with needy families.
“We donate all of our own family’s items to the Christian Closet,” says deZeeuw. “I love this ministry because you can see immediately that what you have goes to someone who needs it and the appreciation they have. They leave smiling, getting the food and clothing items they can’t afford and they really need.”
Donations of clean and seasonal clothing and shoes from infant to adult as well as home goods can be made to the Christian Closet at Woodbury Lutheran Church. The Christian Closet is currently collecting winter gear for needy families. “It’s been so successful; we have a voucher system and last year we had hundreds of items that were distributed,” Johnson says.
Christian Closet Winter Coat Drive
Needed items include coats, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and boots. Donations are tax-deductible and can be dropped off at Woodbury Lutheran Church, 7380 Afton Road. If you are interested in donating your time by volunteering, contact the church at 651.739.5144.