February 12, 2009


Spirit of giving alive at C’ville church

GivingBob Ellis/staff photographer
Nancy Space sorts through donated clothing at the First United Methodist Church of Cortland on Route 222, preparing for a Community Giveaway on Saturday.

Living and Leisure Editor

Rev. Aaron Bouwens said that church is more then the one hour weekly Sunday service. It’s about helping others in their every day life.
“This is what we think we’re supposed to be about, giving of ourselves to those in need,” said the pastor of the Cortland United Methodist Church.
Bouwens’ parishioners will provide food and clothing at a special “Community Giveaway” on Saturday at the 734 Route 222, Cortlandville, church.
“We are going to be giving away food and clothing. The food is whatever we have in our pantry. We are making it available to folks. And the clothing, we have (four) racks and four tables, we are making it available for people that have need,” he said.
The event, organized by the parishioners, will take place 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and coincides with the spirit of Valentine’s Day.
“Times are tough in our community,” the pastor said. This was a way for church staff to offer its own Valentine’s gift to the area.
“I am absolutely thrilled to see this come together... Our only agenda is to help people, give them the things they need, to get them through these challenging times,” Bouwens said.
Women were busy organizing clothing on Tuesday, getting ready for the giveaway.
“I want the public to know that we are here for them,” said Diane Baranowski of Homer.
Baranowski is concerned about the layoffs people have been experiencing here. She has heard a lot of stories of people in duress, plus, her own husband was laid off at Borg Warner, so she is sensitive to people in that situation.
“A lot of times it takes three weeks before an unemployment check comes to their home. A lot of times, it’s hard. We are here if they need help.”
Baranowski tries to put two to three days of food together in each box. “It depends on the size of the family,” she said.
The church serves 100 people a month with its food pantry. Baranowski said people call for help and staff will put together a basket. She is planning on having open pantry hours in March from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays.
“Our work is going very well here. We are very fortunate to have a fantastic church family that donates kindly. And also we have a few businesses ... that have donated food to help us get by. All of Cortland and the surrounding area are working together, just for the people who need it,” she said.
“It’s awesome,” said Debbie Underwood of Groton. “I think this is one of the neatest things to do ... We are here to let them know we have these things for them.
Ann Rood of McGraw is head of the clothing closet at the church. She said that Debbie Head, a member of the church, had the idea to start a clothing closet. She got her friends to donate. The idea mushroomed and now Rood is overseeing the project. Several people have been helping and John Head specially built four heavy duty clothing racks for the church.
The organizers have been looking through the clothing and asking themselves if it is appropriate for them to wear. If so, it is appropriate to give away. They look for stain free clothing, zippers that work, seams that are not ripped. They then label and size the pieces.
Parishioners are in the process of putting together an “executive rack” of clothing for the professional work world. It won’t be available Saturday, but it will be at some point.
“Please come in to take a look a look at what we have. Take what you need. There’s no limit,” said Rood.
People will be able to snack on coffee and baked goods. Tables will be set up for children to color, so parents can look for what they need. Volunteers will be there to help with the kids.
“What we had donated to us, we’re sending that to the community,” said Baranowski. “Clear us out. We’ll start all over again.”


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