For the last two months I have been volunteering weekly at a place called The Baltimore Free Store. Here’s the idea of the place, they take donations from people (like The Salvation Army) and then once a month they set-up like a flee market in different places around Baltimore, MD and then give out things for free. The Baltimore Free Store is solely non-profit and runs on volunteer work. Bonnie Nordvedt (one of my good friends) runs the Free Store. She discovered it over a while ago, and about a year ago took over running it. When I went the first time to help out I had no idea what I was getting myself into. She explained to me the purpose of the Free Store.
“We promote RECYCLING & REUSE. We are tired of so much usable, useful stuff going to waste while people live in poverty in our city. That’s why we want to empower COMMUNITIES to come together and meet these needs through giving and taking.
It’s really a very simple concept: take what you want, give what you can.
We redistribute goods to empower, improve and support communities.”
They have a heart for helping the poor and when you first get to the warehouse you understand why it’s there and already who it is going to help. Their motto is “Give what you can, take what you need.”
What I do when I go is sort through stuff (mostly clothes) making decisions on whither it’s in good condition or if it’s junk, then we organize it so it can go out at the right time to the right place. I can say it’s been one of the best things I have done with my time this summer. Every Thursday I head off at 10:00am, pick up a friend or two to help out for the day and get there by 11:00am. Once we’re there we start working towards a goal of just being able to walk through the place (yes, it’s the same goal every week). With donations coming in and the place running on volunteers only it can sometimes just pile up and become overwhelming. But once the day is over and we are heading out, I always look around and see a bite that has been taken out of a very giant whale.
What is really amazing is lately it has been getting a good bit of media coverage. Just this last Thursday Channel 11 News showed up wanting to do an piece on the Free Store for the evening news. Also a few weeks ago The Baltimore Sun wrote an article about it too (sorry I couldn’t find a link to it).
The Free Store is not religiously related in anyway, but I do believe that God is moving there and sees it as a good thing that is going on. It is there helping the community and bringing good to the people around (maybe not exactly the “good news,” but I’m sure if you are struggling to make ends meet finding thing you need for free could be good news to you.) But I believe it lives up to this…
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
– Matthew 25:31-45