Recycle for a reason

It Worked for Us

When her local Salvation Army store decided to close in 2012, Kay Abrams and her former pastor, the Rev. Carlo Rapanut, decided to make sure the people in Chugiak, Alaska, still had a place to donate items and purchase them for a low price.

Abrams, a member of the United Methodist Church of Chugiak, said there was no place within 15 miles of the Eagle River community to donate or buy items. She put her skills to work to develop "Recycle for a Reason" (R4R). The church collects used clothes, books, household wares, furniture, lawn and garden items, bikes, boats, tents, skis, sleds and much more to sell at its monthly Friday-Saturday R4R sale.

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Church members and community volunteers put up signs asking for donations and announcing the sale. They tirelessly sort and stack piles of adult and children's clothes and inspect and organize household and other items.

"We never imagined the expansion we have experienced," said Abrams. "If we had, we would have been terrified and convinced it was beyond what our congregation of 150-plus members could do."

The church also gives away clothes and items to other churches and outreach ministries, to teachers and to other organizations. Whatever is left goes to Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

"It is surprising what people will donate when they know it is going to be used by someone who needs it," said the Rev. Timothy McConville, pastor. "The amount not taken to the landfill will astound you, and the things people re-use or re-purpose is unbelievable."

The church uses some of the proceeds from the sales for mission and national service projects, donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, scholarships and other projects.

"We are simply the middle men and women that make it possible," said Abrams. "As a result, the kingdom of God has taken root in our community and appreciation for one another has grown."

AT A GLANCE: Chugiak United Methodist Church | 16430 Old Glenn Hwy., Chugiak, AK 99567 | 907-696-2353 | [email protected] | www.umcchugiak.org | Rev. Timothy McConville, pastor | Average attendance: 126 | Alaska Conference

Christine Kumar is a freelance writer and administrator, Baltimore Metropolitan District, Baltimore-Washington Conference. Send story ideas to [email protected].