ROCK ISLAND -- Women and children from local homeless shelters will share some new fashions and release some symbolic balloon burdens next month at Peoples Missionary Baptist Church.|
The church's women's group, called S.I.S.T.A.H.S., will host its 4th annual Fashion Share event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at the church, 553 23rd St., Rock Island. To prepare for it, event organizers seek donations of new or ''gently-used" clothing to give to women and children attending the event.
Toiletries and jewelry are also sought by group members, whose acronym comes from their mission statement: ''Seeking, Impassioned, Strengthened, Thankful, Available, Happy and Studying to serve.''
Donations can be dropped off at the church from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, event chairwoman Tochcia Butler said.
Nothing will go to waste. Any leftover clothes, supplies or accessories will be taken to local shelters to be given to people unable to attend the event, Ms. Butler said.
About 40 women from local shelters attended last year's event, which has grown each year, according to the church's education director and first lady Olivia Jones.
The guest speaker this year will be Elizabeth Williams, of Tulsa, Okla., best known for her role as an NBC news reporter, Mrs. Jones said.
National Fashion Share program founder Paula Davis of Detroit won't be able to attend this year's event, as she has in past years, but she and Mrs. Jones had the chance to compare notes recently during a Baptist national convention in Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend.
Ms. Davis began the Fashion Share program 16 years ago as an idea to ''reach out, and then reach back to follow up on women and children it helped,'' Mrs. Jones said. Getting abuse victims back on their feet is what the program is all about, she said.
Some women seem a little nervous or scared before they attend a Fashion Share event, ''but once they get here, they feel it's quite a positive experience," Mrs. Jones said.
They will get treated to a free fellowship lunch and will participate in a balloon release, symbolizing the release of any burdens that they feel are holding them down, Ms. Butler said. Transportation for women coming from local shelters will be provided. Some of the women will win free makeovers, she said.
Helping other people is the real fun part, S.I.S.T.A.H.S. member Frankie Pass said, and is why she returned to help for a second year.
S.I.S.T.A.H.S. have plenty of fun preparing for the event, Mrs. Jones said.
''All the fellowship time we spend washing and ironing clothes to get ready for it are so much fun for us,'' she said.
It's also fun when they see the women they helped return to visit the church later, Ms. Butler said.
''Last year, three women wound up joining the church,'' she said. ''We also saw three kids come to church after last year's event because they remembered how nice they were treated. We had a group of our older teens help out with the kids last year to give their moms a chance to take a break. When they're in shelters, mothers have to stay with their kids at all times, so this gives them a chance to be without their kids, if only for a brief time, and do some clothes shopping.''
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