SERVE LOCALLY, IMPACT GLOBALLY
WRITTEN BY: LEAH JOHNSON
One of the benefits of working at Outdoor Concepts and The ROP Shop is the opportunity employees are given to serve their community. Throughout the year employees are given 16 hours that they can use for Community Service. These hours can be used by each employee for institutions close to their heart, but the company also keeps an eye out for opportunities to serve at local organizations.
In our small town of Bluffton, Indiana there is an organization that is transforming the lives of those in need on a global scale. Matt Hartsell, the founder and Executive Director, launched the organization when he was the Associate Pastor at Hope Missionary Church. In 2016, after 35 years at the church, he left to work full time at the ministry. As stated in their tagline, Forgotten Children Worldwide is a ministry whose programs are designed to protect, empower, and love children around the World whose basic human rights are threatened every day. Their ultimate goal is to spread the love of Jesus Christ, but also to help impoverished and orphaned children to become independent and free from the threat of trafficking.
They have built homes for orphans, set up a child sponsorship program and self-sustainability projects to educate those in poverty on how to generate a sustainable income, and partnered with pastors who are passionate about spreading the gospel and helping the people in their villages. In January 2020 they will be launching a new program in Uganda called Kipindi Mpito (meaning Transition Period in Swahili) in an effort to equip young woman for adulthood. Through the year-long program they will learn 12 life skills and trades in tailoring and agriculture, as well as receive counseling for mental health and trauma healing.
Clothing distribution was the first thing the FCW did when it was founded and it has continued to be a large part of their ministry. It’s also a popular and fun way for people local to their headquarters to get involved. Churches, ministries, and groups of friends can gather to sort through the donated clothing and get them ready to be shipped to children in need in India and Malawi.
Once enough boxes are collected to fill a forty-foot container (usually around 20,000 pounds of clothing) the boxes are shipped out to Forgotten Children’s partners. The partners then store the boxes in their homes and pass them out to local pastors who pass them out to the children in their villages. This program allows the pastors to meet a physical need and open up the door to sharing the gospel and meeting a spiritual need. In 2017 alone enough clothes were shipped out to clothe over 80,000 children.
With multiple drop-off locations throughout Northeast Indiana, there is rarely a shortage of donated clothing that needs to be sorted. There is a regular group of volunteers and the occasional group packing party, but FCW still has to work hard to keep up with the mountain of bags that looms in the corner of their packing room.
One way FCW keeps on top of this is with their annual 75-Minute Packing Challenge. Local businesses are given the opportunity to put together teams and for an hour and fifteen minutes they sort and pack as much as they can in hopes of winning a trophy and bragging rights. 7 businesses participated this year, including two teams from our own OCI/ROP Shop family, and 213 boxes were packed. That equals 6,355 pounds of clothes and enough boxes to fill 1/5th of a 40-foot container.
Having the boxes packed isn’t enough to get them overseas. Every box costs $10 to ship, so as important and helpful as it is for volunteers to come in and do the work, it’s just as important to have the money to send them out. If you’d like to help clothe and shelter orphans, or educate and empower young women, or even sponsor an impoverished child, please visit forgottenchildren.org to learn about all the ways you could help.
“ Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 NIV
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