By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle
SPRING LAKE, MI — Money can be tight around the holidays, so The Gateway Church plans on helping out families with a portion of their budget.
The fifth annual Personal Care Product Giveaway will take place Sunday, Dec. 28 at the church, located on 1641 Pontaluna Road in Spring Lake. Starting at 2:30 p.m., personal care products will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Our goal is to provide families and individuals in need with a one-month supply of personal care items,” said Ben Vegh, lead pastor at The Gateway Church. “Every year the demand for assistance grows and so does the amount of donations given.”
Products to be given away will include shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, deodorant, cleaning products and more. Last year, hundreds of people received more than 5,000 items for free.
Five years ago, the church was looking for a way to make an impact in the community when one of their members noticed there was a need for people who already had coats, scarves and gloves.
That same church member found out the food stamps and bridge cards do not cover personal care products. The discussion from their mission’s team and their board grew from there.
“The need is great,” Vegh said. “Every year we have hundreds of families that come through and it is just remarkable.”
In their first year of holding the giveaway, Vegh said the church had put the word out with the church all of the supplies. The next year, the group effort became more organized and produced an average of 15–20 personal care products for each family.
With at least one month’s cleaning supplies, Vegh has noticed families have made some of those products last a year, especially after they began giving away 1,000 Q-tips. At the end of the giveaway, the church also has volunteers helping families bring their personal care products back to their cars.
The Gateway Church had also begun to consider forming another personal care product giveaway in other areas along West Michigan.
“If we get the resources and the availability to do it, it can be expanded,” Vegh said. “We’ve talked with a few other churches along the lakeshore that could do a similar outreach to the backpack drive.”
Vegh said every family will be given the option of a prayer room, which is not mandatory. Vegh said they will be coordinating this giveaway through the honor system — no residents have to provide proof they are limited when it comes to funds.
“We do it after Christmas because we know a lot of budgets are tight coming into the New Year,” Vegh said. “(Parents) have sacrificed by purchasing what their kids wanted. Heating costs are up as well, so it’s a perfect time for an after-Christmas blessing.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 29, 2014)