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Labor of Love community outreach offers goods to those in need

Food, clothing, furniture and haircuts to be given away

POSTED: August 27, 2011 1:30 a.m.

A New Walk Christian Fellowship church pastors Jan and Dewayne Payne sort through a stack of clothing Friday afternoon donated to the church. The church is gearing up for their second Labor of Love where they will be handing out free groceries, clothing, and haircuts for adults and children.

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Labor Day weekend is often associated with barbecues and end-of-summer trips to the lake. However, at A New Walk Christian Fellowship, the holiday day weekend is equated with their Labor of Love community outreach festival.

The annual festival will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 3. at the church on 673 Bradford St., Gainesville.

"I’m a drywall contractor (by trade), so I understand how the economic downfall is hurting people," said Dewayne Payne, New Walk senior pastor.

"Everyone talks about the stimulus plan, well this is God’s stimulus plan."

Next Saturday’s event will include a food, clothing and furniture giveaways. The church has also arranged to have stylists on site offering free haircuts.

"We are trying to reach out to the people who really need this stuff. There’s a lot of folks who want it, but we want the people who need it," Payne said.

For the last few months, the church has been diligently collecting clothes to hand out for this anticipated event. Some of the adult and children’s clothes have been gently used, but a good deal of them will be brand new.

"We’ve got a church of people that when they pray, it comes," said Jan Payne, New Walk associate pastor.

"A friend of ours was a store manager in Dawsonville, and she called to tell us that a Dickies Clothing Store was closing down. Since we are a nonprofit, we could give them a tax write-off for their contribution.

"They let us come in and pick up everything that was left over after their store closing sales. We ended up with about $22,000 in clothing, and we got a bunch of shelves, too."

The donated shelves fit in nicely at the roomy warehouse behind the Bradford Street church. The storage building is a crucial component to their weekly food giveaway.

"We probably touch about 350 families each week with our food outreach," Jan Payne said.

"We’re a small church, but we’ve got a (huge) heart for outreach."

This is the second year the church has hosted the Labor Day weekend giveaway.

"We didn’t really advertise last year at all. We put up flyers around the neighborhood, but it was mostly from word of mouth," Jan Payne said.

"We were blown away by how many folks showed up. It was surprising to see how many people were willing to dig through those big boxes of clothes to find what they needed."

Last year, with about eight pallets of clothes and no furniture, the event drew more than 300 people, said Jerry Deyton, New Walk outreach minister. This year, with more than a dozen pallets of clothes and free furniture, Deyton estimates they’ll serve more than 500 people.

With a bounce house for the kids and Sno-cones, the event will have a definite carnival appeal.

"We like to have fun," Jan Payne said.

Even though the outreach will happen on New Walk’s property, organizers say this isn’t about forcing "church" on the masses.

"We offer prayer to everybody, but we don’t force prayer on anybody," Dewayne Payne said.

"This is about filling a need. We’re trying to reach families with children who might not have a coat for the winter, or the (homeless person) that needs some coveralls.

"There are a lot of people out there hurting. We want to do what we can to help."


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