The sign outside the tan brick church reads: "Take what you need, compliments of FUMC." The items next to it have been disappearing at a fast rate.
While many people hang ornaments on trees for Christmas, First United Methodist Church in Hutchinson, Kansas, began placing socks and flip-flops, covered in plastic, in their evergreens during Easter.
The footwear disappears in a good way, says Deanne Martin. She offered the idea of putting all colors and sizes of socks on the bushes – allowing people to take what they need and remain anonymous. The items can be taken anytime – day or night. When Martin shared her plan for the sock giveaway, church board members suggested adding flip-flops as the weather was starting to warm. The colorful offerings also added "pizazz outside the church since there is not much greenery," said Martin. She and other church volunteers – including Sunday school children – placed 250 socks and flip-flops on the four evergreen trees on the first Sunday of the project.
Martin replenishes the bushes every week and is grateful for the donations of church and community members. "We need to do more outside the church," said Martin. "We need to be visible."
"This is a great way to help people with a specific need," said the Rev. Jeff Slater, pastor of First. "There is homelessness around in this small town."
The church will continue to "keep it up," until the need goes away, said Slater. Currently, First Church also assists individuals and families with paying utility bills and provides food through its food bank.
AT A GLANCE
First United Methodist Church | 101 E. 1st Ave., Hutchinson, KS 67501 | 620-662-2386 | [email protected] | fumhutch.com | Rev. Jeff Slater | Average attendance: 187 | Great Plains Conference