A simple double-wide trailer situated in a parking lot along Lake Harbour Drive has become a beacon of hope for those in need.
The trailer, which Trace Ridge Baptist Church already owned, was transformed into what is now called the Resource Center. Combined with the food pantry the church was operating, the Resource Center is a one-stop shop for food, clothing, home décor, some furniture, job interview outfits and more.
The kicker: everything inside is free for those who need it.
The Resource Center opens every Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. and the first Saturday of each month from 7 to 11 a.m., during which Christy Street says they serve approximately 15 families.
“It’s a simple idea, but it has been cool to see it grow,” said Street, the operator of the Resource Center.
Street and her husband, Pastor Steve Street, have served at Trace Ridge Baptist Church in Ridgeland for nearly 10 years.
Street began serving with the youth group, which is what sparked the idea for the Resource Center.
“We came up with this idea that on a Wednesday night, we would have a girls’ boutique,” Street said.
Two years ago, they decorated a space with mirrors and lined several racks with donated clothes from church members for a night of “shopping” and snacks for the girls.
“We let the girls, both high school and junior high, come and shop,” Street said. “They came in to pick some things out and try them on.”
“We wanted them to come out in their new clothes so we could tell them how beautiful they are and encourage them,” Street added. “We were trying to really just build them up.”
After the event, the clothing donations kept pouring in. Before long, the room they were storing donations in was full.
“Then people started asking if we needed men’s or boy’s clothing,” Street said. “It just grew. We had more than we could handle. We thought, well if we can help the girls then we can help their moms and dads and siblings.”
Now, church members of all ages help out with the Resource Center. Some donate food items or clothing, others come in to help unpack the bags of donations, while others sort and hang clothing.
Street said they accept any donations of clothing, housewares, furniture, school supplies and food. However, she said there is a special need for pots and pans, beds, couches and food.
“Every pot and pan we’ve ever received here is picked up immediately,” Street said.
Since they give out food weekly and have freezer storage, Street said they also accept fresh food in addition to canned goods.
With the Christmas season approaching, they are taking seasonal décor and artificial trees to help their guests get in the Christmas spirit and help eliminate some of the additional costs the season can bring.
Street said their next projects will be packing food items together into meal bags and organizing the clothing by sizes to make the experience even easier for families.
The church has also “adopted” Ann Smith Elementary School. Each week, members pick up 20 backpacks from the school on Monday.
Once the backpacks are filled with food, they are dropped off at the school again on Friday to go home with students to ensure that the children have enough meals over the weekend.
“We sent fliers home in those backpacks to let the parents know that we have clothing available too,” Street said.