Church Clothesline Project Benefits Those In Need

A clothesline project at the Christ Lutheran Church in Bemus Point is providing personal care items for those in need. In the first three weeks, about 40 bags have been collected. P-J photo by Jordan Patterson

BEMUS POINT — The Christ Lutheran Church in Bemus Point participated in clothing the disadvantaged in the Jamestown area in the winter, but that wasn’t enough. Pastor Bob Benson and members of the church wanted to keep helping throughout the summer.

“We were a part of the Clothesline Project this winter for hats, mittens and gloves, you know, keeping Jamestown warm,” Benson said. “This summer as we transitioned over, we thought ‘You know that was such a good project for us to do.’ We’re meeting a lot of needs within the community.

“So, we thought ‘Hey can we keep this going in the summer, and if we do, how can we do that?” Benson said.

According to Benson, the initial thought was to provide food for those in need and feed them out of their building. But after talking with a few people who would be receiving the help from the church, Benson realized there might be a better option.

“We took over the old restaurant, the old Chautauqua Public Inn, and the thought was that we should be feeding people out of our building,” Benson said.

After talking with those people Benson was told that food isn’t the biggest problem for them because they would be receiving food stamps. The real items that the disadvantaged had trouble getting were personal care items.

“So, we decided that we’d just gather up a whole bunch of personal sized personal care items and we bagged them up and put out on the clothesline,” Benson said. “So far, in the first three weeks, we’ve gone through about 40 bags.”

The items normally consist of toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, razors, shaving cream and deodorant, among other items.

“It’s been a really good outreach,” Benson said.

The only concern that Benson and the Christ Lutheran Church has is how long they can keep this going. The church hopes it can sustain this project and until the winter and then start back in on giving out clothing for the colder months. Benson joked that it’s impossible to leave soap and shampoo out in freezing weather and get anyone to find any use for it after its frozen.

“We made a decision the other night to just keep going as long as we can,” Benson said. “We’re hoping it will go all summer.”

On a regular basis, members of the church gather with one another and bag up the items for people to take. People usually wait for specific times to come grab the bags off of the clothesline, when no one’s around, but that Benson’s seen a couple of people utilizing the church’s charitable project.

The church attempts to track what times of the day that items will disappear off of the line. Thus far, Benson said that people normally only take one bag at a time and they haven’t had anyone take every bag that’s hanging up and emphasized that this is making real change in the community already.

Although the Christ Lutheran Church is the only organization involved in a project like this, Benson realizes that other groups most likely want to get involved but are waiting to see how this particular project pans out.

“God’s just told us to do what we can to help the disadvantaged, he hasn’t told us to be responsible for who those disadvantaged are,” Benson said. “So, you know, we’re just doing what Gods called us to do and we leave the rest up to him.”