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Church ministry continues helping clothe community members in need

Beverly Raines, lay president at Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, has reopened Sarah’s Closet at the church after is closed following the death of Joyce Wesley. The closet depends solely on the donations of church members and offers its clothing to anyone in need. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Beverly Raines, lay president at Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, has reopened Sarah’s Closet at the church after is closed following the death of Joyce Wesley. The closet depends solely on the donations of church members and offers its clothing to anyone in need. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — When Beverly Raines sees the needs of a family met — she experiences overwhelming joy.

And that joy surfaces after visitors leave Sarah’s Closet, an outreach ministry program at Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church that provides clothes and shoes for a family in need.

“It’s part of us showing our kindness to the community,” Raines said.

Raines, who is the coordinator of the program, said several families visited Sarah’s Closet last Saturday, one of which had lost everything in a house fire.

“They were able to go there and get free clothes for their children,” Raines said. “That kind of relieves some of the burden on them.”

The clothes that are provided to the public are donated by church members and outside visitors.

Sarah’s Closet began several years ago and was created by the late Joyce Wesley, a long-time member of the church.

Sarah’s Closet closed down following Wesley’s death, but Raines reopened the program a few months later.

“I saw that there was a need,” Raines said. “As a church, I think we have a responsibility to reach out to the community and help those who can’t help themselves.”

Upon the return of Sarah’s Closet, Raines relocated the room, which housed the clothes, to a larger room on the second floor of the church so they could collect more items and have more clothes available.

“We would like to expand to provide some household goods like spreads, comforters and small appliances,” Raines said.

Raines opted to not include a background check process or make families fill out paperwork to get free clothes.

“We don’t want anything that will prohibit (families) to come,” Raines said. “If you start putting too many requirements, people would start to get apprehensive about coming. If they are going there in an ill way, I’ll let the Lord deal with that.”

Raines said the greatest joy of working with Sarah’s Closet is to see a child get something and become excited.

“I think that’s our duty as a Christian to help the less fortunate,” Raines said. “We can all go to church, but the real Christian thing is when we reach beyond the walls of our church and help others.”

Sarah’s Closet originated from Sarah Allen, the wife of one of the founding members of the church in the 1860s.

Sarah’s Closet is open from 8 a.m. to noon every third Saturday of the month.

Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church is located on 228 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. in downtown Natchez.