Hill Country District Finishes Another Lenten Used Clothing Drive

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days," says the book of Ecclesiastes. It has to be true if it’s in the Bible, right?

Well, the bread Rio Texas churches have been casting on the waters came home last week.

Johnson City UMC, in partnership with Hill Country District churches, collected used clothing and turned it over to the Seventh-day Adventists’ Community Service Disaster Response center in Keene, Texas.

The Disaster Used Clothing Drive, conducted every Lent, spread to churches all around Central Texas.

The Adventists make the rounds of participating churches by picking up the bags and boxes and taking the clothes to their warehouse where they are sorted, sanitized, packed and stored until a disaster requires used clothing. They loaded their trucks and waited for the morning when the survivors come out of the shelters.

A clean change of clothes is almost as welcome as a hot shower. Collecting in advance of the disaster is important because the need for used clothing usually lasts only 24-48 hours. These clothes are ready when the spring tornados and floods hit, or the summer wildfires and storms, or the fall hurricanes.

"This winter was difficult because we were collecting used clothes for the asylum-seekers on the border at the same time we were collecting for the Adventists,” explained Pastor Lee Romero of the First United Methodist Church: Johnson City.

“We were afraid we would short-change one need or the other, but the people of Johnson City stepped up and filled both needs.”

When Customs and Border Protection released approximately 100 refugees a day in Eagle Pass, the Methodists announced a call for more clothing. The Adventists quickly agreed the situation was a disaster and filled up a truck.

The Rev Becky Baxter Ballou thanked Marshall Gonzales, Director of Community Services, who was driving the truck, for all the clothes he was giving her.

“Don’t thank me too much,” Gonzales replied. “Most of these clothes are what we picked up from you Methodists last spring. We’ve just been storing it for a year.”

Then he and his empty truck set off to make this year’s rounds of churches, winding up his route in Johnson City, where the First Baptist, First Christian, and First Methodist Churches finished filling him back up again, and the truck rolled off to Keene to start the cycle all over again.

“There is no way any one denomination could have done this alone,” said Romero. It takes all of us partnering together to follow Jesus’ instruction to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the stranger. Doing what Christ tells us is basic to being a Christian. We each take our guidance from the same book."

Written by George Barnette