Helping Hands

Church spreads free clothing ministry near and far



Dawn Ramirez, one of the organizers of the Little Lambs Closet, shows clothing available in the room holding sizes newborn to 5T.

Dawn Ramirez, one of the organizers of the Little Lambs Closet, shows clothing available in the room holding sizes newborn to 5T.

FLINT TWP. — Spring has sprung at the Little Lambs Closet — a signal to area mothers to come and get free clothing for their little ones from the clothing bank inside the West Flint Church of the Nazarene, 2254 S. Dye Road.

An open house held last week is one of two each year when seasonal clothing is changed over, said Dawn Ramirez, who runs the service with Joyce Carlisle. They get help from church and non- church members with numerous tasks including laundering, sorting and mending for a huge volume of donated clothing.

Little Lamb holds weekly walk-in hours but is extra busy now as the snow boots, sweaters and winter attire are moved into storage and replaced by shorts, sandals and other warm-weather wear in the “closet” area where parents come to select clothing.

There is a room for smaller sizes — newborns through 5T — and a room for older children sizes 6 to 14/16, plus a rack of maternity clothing and some household items.

Little Lamb also helps with layettes, bassinets, diapers, coupons and a clearinghouse of goods and services children need.

Forty families representing over 100 children came to the closet during the Open House last week, Ramirez said.

Little Lamb started nearly eight years ago – long before General Motors’ woes and an economic downturn took its toll on local employment. It was a bit ahead of its time because some people they did not see the need for a clothing bank, Ramirez said.

But she knew better. Having been a single mother herself about 13 years ago, Ramirez understood the challenge of deciding between buying shoes of hamburger.

Teen moms, struggling couples, grandparents with custody of their grandchildren, foster parents, homeless families and those dealing with illness all fit the bill Little Lamb serves.

Little Lamb started as an in-house service for church members but took only about a year to spread into the community and beyond.

“Our motto is “need has no zip code,’’ Ramirez said.

They have drawn customers from Lapeer and Shiawassee counties and assisted a sister church in Attica in organizing a clothing bank.

In addition to partnering with other churches, Little Lamb works with many community helping organizations including those providing food, shelter, car seats and other goods to needy families.

Church members also pitch in in emergencies and have traveled as far as Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and as recently as the devastating tornadoes in Alabama, Ramirez said.

Their next goal is to respond to emergency calls in the middle of the night. Other organizations provide food, shelter and shopping vouchers but Little Lamb would like to be there to meet the immediate needs of children such as an outfit to wear to school the next morning, Ramirez said.

Little Lamb offers pick-ups of donations and works with Mom 2 Mom sales to collect items they don’t want to take back home. They also have pickup arrangements with secondhand stores and periodically travel to distribution sites to serve people who don’t have transportation to the church bank.

Diapers and bedding are the hardest needs to fill, said Ramirez who is on the hunt for twin bed frames for a mother who wants to get her kids mattresses off the floor.

Little Lamb also sponsors diaper drives, a Back to School event providing school supplies and a Christmas toy giveaway in December.

Donations are accepted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Walk-in hours to get clothing are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, and 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays or by appointment. For details, call 810-732-0480, ext. 303.


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