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Show Us Your Sunshine: Local ministry sees need, fills need

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With simple tools that included two bags of clothes and a pair of shoes, a ministry was born. The organizers of the Brooksville Pumpkin Patch and “The HomeTown Market of Brooksville” regularly offer a rich assortment of arts, crafts and gift items at their family-friendly community markets.  And now at their home base at Christ Lutheran Church at 475 North Ave West, Brooksville, the market team is providing much more; The essentials that people need to survive.

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Indeed, through some major and ongoing events open to the whole community, the market crew is offering food and clothes to those who need them the most. “We have a free bbq to-go style community dinner on the dates listed below.  We prep for 300 meals,” said Jessica Longoria, Mission Board President. “We provide a to-go box with dinner, dessert, drink, and utensils.  God’s Clothes Closet is open too, FREE clothes infant to plus size. Completely free to anyone in the community.  Always the 3rd Wednesday of every month.”

The next free bbq to-go style community dinners will be served January 19th (4:30 pm to 6 pm), February 16th (4:30 pm to 6 pm), and March 16th (4:30 pm to 6 pm).

The morning meal? Well the team has that covered as well. “We have a free sit-down community breakfast on the dates listed below.  We prep for 50, and will adjust if more is needed. We provide a hot meal (typically eggs, bacon, biscuits, coffee). It is free to anyone in the community.  Always the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month,” said Longoria. 

The next breakfasts will be served January 12th and 26th from 9 am to 10 am and February 9th and 23rd from 9 am to 10 am, and March 9th & 23rd from 9 am to 10 am.

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Open during these meal events is God’s Clothes Closet, a clothing ministry that fulfills yet more basic needs for beneficiaries. Longoria stated, “We have free clothes, infant to plus size clothes and shoes (1,000s of pieces of clothing, lots of variety). There is also a sundry room with basic hygiene needs and blankets.  This is every Wednesday from 9:30 am until noon.

Longoria further described the community breakfast. “The Wednesday community breakfast has been going on for about 18 months. Hot breakfast is typically bacon or sausage, pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, a pastry or biscuit, and coffee or cold beverage. There are tables set up in the Fellowship Hall for people to sit and eat. It is a nice relaxing atmosphere.  We like to promote a welcoming and safe environment for all of our neighbors to come and enjoy a warm meal.  (By neighbors she means EVERYONE is invited!)  It is neat to see the spread of people that come; All walks of Brooksville.  It is always nice because you may make a friend you did not expect to.  We are all in this life together, why not lift up our neighbors and help them start their day with a smile and a full belly.  We have electronic charging stations available for those that might be between stays or traveling through.  God’s Clothes Closet is open from 9:30 am till noon.  Our breakfast visitors are encouraged to take a stroll through if they would like.” 

Terry Halladay, a volunteer coordinator of God’s Clothes Closet, sees all of these programs as a cohesive mission in service to both the Lord and people. “The Clothes Closet started four years ago. Back then, I was just a volunteer folding clothes. A woman brought two bags of clothes and a pair of shoes and a ministry was born,” she said. Shirts, dresses, slacks, sweaters and shoes are among the garments up for offer at the closet, which also functions as a mobile unit serving Title 1 students at Hernando schools and making stops at other churches and sites in the community. “We hand out hot dogs and bottled waters to the kids at the schools, along with the clothes,” Halladay explained. 

Terry and husband Alan Halladay are also instrumental in coordinating the mission’s food-centered ministries, which feature food donated by church members. Both programs are operated entirely by volunteers. “I could be up front making the eggs, then head back to the clothes closet to fold clothes. We see entire families who may not have easy access to nutritious food. We give them something good to eat,” Terry said.

And as they enjoy hot servings of grits, pancakes and other treats for breakfast, or takeaway bbq for supper, diners also can ask for another precious commodity: prayers. “If someone needs a prayer, we’ll say it for them. We hope that they’ll want to come to church, but they don’t have to–we hope that they’ll have a good time, and be helped,”  said Halladay. To learn more about or to arrange to donate to these programs, call (352) 215-9054.

“Whenever we see a need, with God’s help we fill a need. Whenever God has a hand in helping, it’s always a win,”  she said.

To spread your own positive community news, send your good news to community reporter Megan Hussey at the Hernando Sun, [email protected] Show Us Your Sunshine!

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