Church gives back to the community through housewarming gifts

By: Joshua Gordon | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 14, 2018

 Lakeside Assembly of God Church in Shelby Township helped 50 families by giving them home essentials for free during the church’s annual Housewarming Big Give event May 2.

Lakeside Assembly of God Church in Shelby Township helped 50 families by giving them home essentials for free during the church’s annual Housewarming Big Give event May 2.

Photo provided by Lakeside Assembly of God Church

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Lakeside Assembly of God Church in Shelby Township helped 50 local families by gifting them with home essentials as they prepare for a new home after recently leaving homeless shelters.

On May 2, the church — located off Schoenherr Road, north of M-59 — welcomed the families into the church for the annual event, which the church calls the Housewarming Big Give. The event is the culmination of a year of collecting donations from the congregation and working with local nonprofits and the Macomb County Department of Human Services.

Pastor Phil Krist said the church identifies the families in need by working with those organizations. Most families are from Macomb County, but some are from neighboring counties.

“These are situations that people are graduating out of a homeless shelter and into a place of residence, whether it is their first ever or first one in a long time,” Krist said. “We want to outfit them with all the equipment and furnishings they need for their kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room, as well as maintenance supplies and toiletries.”

Krist said there is some criteria, such as the people have to have jobs and a place to live. The Housewarming Big Give is one of four charity events that the church holds each year, with one around Christmas, one in the fall before school starts, and a baby shower for unwed mothers.

In past years, Krist said, the church collected gently used items from the congregation and filled the whole collegiate-sized gymnasium like a grocery store so that the families could pick out what they wanted. That included old appliances, furniture, televisions and computers, all free for the families.

But after a few years of doing that, the church decided to collect money and delegate church groups to purchase new items. All the items are gathered into collections for the various rooms, and every family gets matching sets.

“After a while, our (donor) families ran out of really good used items,” Krist said. “So we would put the youth ministry in charge of working to get kitchen supplies, and the usher ministry in charge of bathroom supplies — all brand new.”

During the event May 2, Krist said they welcomed the families into the church and took time to talk about what the church does before escorting each family into the multipurpose chapel area to pick up the supplies. There was also food and activities for children, so it was a free family event.

“Instead of handing out things over the counter for free, we spend time to get to know them and give them dignity with our friendship,” Krist said.

Kara Mills, the communications secretary with the church, said she has volunteered with the Housewarming Big Give since she was a teenager. Being able to share what the church is about and help these families is great to see, she said.

“You see people like single moms come in and cry and say that nobody seems to want to help them out,” Mills said. “I feel like we bless them and make it so they don’t feel like they are on their own. So financially, we are able to help them out, which is real nice.”

Krist said the families are always very grateful, and the church uses it to build bridges. He said families often attend the church afterward and receive counseling in a number of ways.

While the church wants to spread its message and what it does, Krist said it is about doing and not just preaching.

“What drives us is the gospel, and not in word only, but in demonstration,” Krist said. “I think sometimes churches focus on preaching and teaching, but the gospel is doing and demonstration more than proclamation.

“People don’t care what you know; they want to know that you care.”