The past two Saturdays, we have given away 30 heavy winter coats to a variety of people including the homeless, human service organizations, and international students from Liberia, Tanzania, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and China. Initially, I thought that it would be hard for me to work on a ministry that requires interacting with so many new people. If you’ve met me, then you know that I am very quiet and introverted. But I do find people interesting, and I do like to listen to (and read) their stories. (This explains why I got hooked on NPR when I was ten, especially public radio programs like The Story and The Moth Radio Hour). The term I’d use for these stories is human stories. With Wesley’s Closet, I’ve actually felt at ease meeting people, listening to their stories– what they are studying, where they are working, or where they are from. What one woman in particular said resonated with me. She was thrilled (I cannot describe accurately how excited she was), because as she put it, “never in her life had she gotten a new coat.”
Through this internship, I’ve also learned about myriad ministries that are connected in a supportive network for the needy in State College. Resources are shared through this network, and that is how many people find Wesley’s Closet.
Although we are a student run ministry, Wesley’s Closet also receives a lot of help from the congregation. When I think about it, not just college students, but all ages in the congregation have been involved in starting Wesley’s Closet. Preschool and youth have collected donations. The high-schoolers put together clothing racks so that we were ready for opening day. Abba Java interns, sororities, and others have been involved in spreading the word, collecting donations, and volunteering. Leaders in the church have helped with getting the apartment as a space, making connections with other ministries, and with general guidance. To me, it is amazing how it has all come together.