contributed by Sam Pierce
One of the biggest questions prior to the opening of the Hempstead County Closet in Hope, was how was it going to be filled.
“That was the scary part of it,” Sarah Carrillo, co-coordinator for the closet, said. “People would ask us, ‘Who is going to fill this house? I know this is a good idea, but I don’t know if y’all are going to be able to fill a house with enough stuff.”
However, despite how scary it was, Carrillo and her cousin, Angie Kidd, prayed about it and “left it in His hands.”
“[God] has filled this house,” Carrillo said. “There have been so many groups involved and so many donations; we are literally the hands and feet of Christ.
“Through every denomination, all the way across, it is awesome to have a common goal that everybody is working towards. It was definitely a God thing, but it was also a community thing, led by Him. It is just amazing.”
The Hempstead County Closet is a nonprofit that assists families and children with clothes, necessities and other items. Kidd said it is for everyday necessity items including pajamas, warm coats, comforters, blankets, and pillows, as well as hygiene products. She said the response to the needs of children in the community has been overwhelming.
“This was a dream Sarah and I both had a year before it was put into place,” Kidd said. “God has continued to put everything and every person in the path to make this succeed.”
The house is open to parents who are in-between jobs, foster families, or families who have been through a traumatic experience such as a house fire or other disasters.
“We are doing for Him, working for Him and we are working for His children,” Kidd said. “God is showing us that there is hope and love.”
The house, which is located at 601 Hwy 355 West, opened Aug. 1. The building itself belongs to Spring Hill United Methodist Church and was previously used as the church’s parsonage and as a rental house. Kidd, the wife of pastor Revel Kidd, said they live in the town and don’t need the house.
“We needed a purpose for it and it just all went perfectly,” Angie Kidd said.
“It was completely a God thing,” Carrillo said. “Angie and I had talked and had been dreaming about it, and it really felt like God was laying this on our heart.
“I have young children, and when I look and see how extremely blessed they are compared to the kids beside them, it breaks my heart. There should be a way to help all these kids.”
Carrillo said she has three children, all under the age of 14.
“We just don’t want kids to be left behind for any reason,” she said. “We want to help meet those needs and fill in the gaps.”
Current needs for the closet include:
- Quarters for the laundromat (a continuous need)
- New socks for men, women and children
- New underwear for men and women
- Clear Plastic Storage Totes
- Sheets for twin beds and cribs
- Blankets for twin beds
- Diapers, Pull-Ups and Depends
For more information or how to donate, visit the Hempstead County Closet Facebook page. For families in need, it is by appointments only, according to Kidd.
“We sit down and figure out how much of what you need and we keep a record of who uses it and what they receive,” Kidd said. “So we don’t run into someone abusing the system.”
Kidd said the Department of Human Services – DHS – might send a family to them or a family can contact her on their own. So far, there have been close to 60 families that have come through, and she said they have been contacted a lot more frequently as of late.
Kidd said they have also worked closely with The CALL in Hempstead County, which just opened Oct. 28.
Laura Bramlett, the family support coordinator for The CALL in Hempstead County, said when they were planning on opening their branch, Kidd and Carrillo offered the house to help foster families.
“Normally, when The CALL opens, it has what is known as The CALL mall, and that is virtually what the closet is,” Bramlett said. “Foster parents can come and get clothes, formula, diapers and whatever else they may need.
“It is just a place to get it for free instead of going to a store.”
Bramlett, who is currently a legal guardian for an 18-year-old girl, said she has used the closet to get two new pairs of shoes for her daughter.
“They are constantly in contact with DHS and finding out the needs of the children in the area,” Bramlett said. “Once we are able to train our own foster families, we will use them a lot more.”
Bramlett’s husband, Daniel, is the lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Hope. She said while they were living in Texas, they were foster parents for two years, but are not currently licensed for Arkansas.
“One of the best things about this closet, is that so many different churches are working together, it has been exciting,” Bramlett said. “God is bringing together the churches – no matter the denomination – together to meet the needs of children.”
Carillo said they are following something that God laid before them and getting to watch Him work. She also said meeting people has been rewarding.
“Seeing a child hug a T-shirt or a pair of pajamas like it is Christmas morning is pretty awesome,” Carrillo said.
Kidd said there has a tremendous outpour from Hempstead County.
“This is only due to the love and compassion of people of Hempstead County uniting together to make this happen,” Kidd said. “It has been and will be such a blessing to so many. Sarah and I are the coordinators, but we have several volunteers that assist us with serving in the closet.”
As cousins, Kidd and Carrillo have always been close and worked on several projects together.
“To do this with her has been so awesome,” Carrillo said. “It is something we have talked about for the past year and felt Him leading us to it.
“To see it actually bear fruit is amazing.”