Deanne Martin was thinking of a way to make her church, First United Methodist, more visible to the community.
Not that it isn't readily noticed on First Avenue across from the Unites States Post Office and the Fox Theatre, just a block off of Main Street.
Martin came up with an idea that has caused people to stop. Plus it has added a lot of color to the blonde-brick building. She went to the church board with her idea that they provide socks and stick them in the bushes in front of the church.
She imagined colorful socks turned into balls stuffed all around the branches. The board suggested that since the weather was warming up they should add flip-flops. They put out a call to church members for donations of socks and flip-flops and engaged the youth of the church. They placed a sign that instructs people to "take what they need, compliments of your friends at FUMC."
"Everything was gone in one week," Martin said. And they got a great response for restocking.
Now they hope others in the community will help them keep the bushes full. The church's pastor, The Rev. Jeff Slater, sees this as a unique experimental mission project hoping to help the Hutch residents who are homeless or otherwise in need.
"The flip-flops and socks have been out for just over a week. We've already seen them disappear one at a time, implying that a basic need is indeed being met for multiple people," Slater said.
The church currently provides help through its food bank, utility assistance, and through organizations like First Call for Help.
"But we also know people's needs are often simpler than that and that often those needs aren't seen by the wider community who might well offer help if they knew," Slater said. "We are hoping this provides a way to give a small, simple amount of hope in a way that's both anonymous for the person but also visible to the community."
The church coordinates with First Call for Help, as they help those in need. Because of the church's downtown location, it has a lot of walk-in traffic to receive assistance, Slater said.
"It's one thing to provide help with big necessities with life like an electrical bill," Slater said. "But there are smaller needs in life that help open the eyes of those who can donate."
They hope to keep the mission going as long as people donate the flip-flops and socks and they are taken. Everyone is invited to partake.
Kathy Hanks,editor, The Hutchinson News
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the World Service Fund apportionment at 100 percent.