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Crisis Closet provides help, hope to displaced families

A group of women from Antioch East Baptist Church continue to do “whatever it takes” to help families displaced by fire and natural disaster.

The WITS (Whatever It Takes, Sister) Mission Group was founded four years ago, beginning its existence in people’s homes as group members dreamed of a permanent place to house items needed by those in crisis.

“We kept looking and thinking and praying, but we couldn’t seem to find a place that would have enough room for us to store things,” says WITS volunteer Linda Dunn.

And then the answer to their prayers arrived when the former Curves building on the Greenville by-pass was offered for their use rent-free and utility-free.

“We certainly couldn’t say ‘no’ to that,” says Dunn.

Once they had a building secured, everything else seemed to fall into place “from racks and shelves to hangers.”

“God definitely provided for us, and continues to do so, through our donors.”

The non-profit group operates strictly on donations, taking no monies from the church’s budget.

“We can always use furniture, kitchen items, appliances, bath and bed linens and we do take clothes,” Dunn explains. “We often get items donated to us after estate sales, or when people are simply downsizing and don’t want the items anymore, but know that other people can make use of them.”

Donations wax and wane—but somehow, Dunn says, the things needed by those they serve always appear in time.

“Sometimes we will be low on certain things—but God is looking ahead for us and those needs are provided for time and again.”

A few times a year, the WITS Mission Group holds a big yard sale to raise funds for some of the items  needed to fully stock the Crisis Closet. Just such an event is happening today, starting at 7 a.m. and running until noon rain or shine.

“With a high percentage of rain in the forecast, we’ve been offered use of the Boan building next door if we need to hold it inside, so we will be ready to go no matter what the weather does,” Dunn explains. “We will be offering a little of everything plus brown bags of clothes for just $5 each, so come on out and see us.”

Items donated which can’t be used at the Crisis Closet and don’t sell at the group’s yard sales are bagged up and donated to a Dothan-based missions group which also operates a thrift store. Nothing, Dunn emphasizes, ever goes to waste.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, truly,” she says.

According to Dunn, the Butler County Department of Human Resources, the Red Cross, and local housing authorities help screen those who seek assistance. “We have had a few people along the way try to con us, basically, so we do work mostly from referrals through reputable agencies,” Dunn stresses. “But if there is a real need, whether it’s here in Butler County or even in Lowndes or Crenshaw, we do our best to help. You just can’t out-give God.”

According to Dunn, the Crisis Closet also receives items such as wheelchairs, walkers and portable commodes and works with the local healthcare system to get them to residents in need.

And the WITS group’s efforts to help those in need has not only gone beyond county lines, it has also assisted those who come from outside of the continental U.S.

“We were actually able to give some aid to some of the Puerto Rican people impacted by Hurricane Maria,” Dunn says. “We helped some of them who had relatives here in the area be able to set up housekeeping here in Butler County.”

The group is mostly made up of retirees who attend a monthly mission study group and serve as volunteers at the Crisis Closet on a rotating schedule.

“Our husbands are also a great help to us with some of the heavy lifting we can’t manage, but we are all getting older and it’s a bigger and bigger challenge. We’d love to get some new, young blood come and join us . . . I have to say there are some mighty good people in Greenville and they are there to help us when they see there’s a need,” says Dunn.

For more information about the WITS Mission group at Antioch East Baptist Church and/or the Crisis Closet, call the church office at (334) 382-6828 or Jeannette Thompson at (334) 662-8387.