Teen Gets Fashionable With “Kidz Clothes”

Posted on May 5, 2010

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By David Ettinger

It’s simple yet profound: a 15-year-old girl saw a need and did something about it. As a result, needy families are benefitting. “This is something that really touches my heart and something I believe the Lord is calling me to do,” said First Orlando member Katie Jennings, who has turned 16 since feeling the Lord’s call to begin a ministry.

Caption: Katie Jennings, just 15, has started her own ministry.

That ministry is called Kidz Clothes, and the name pretty much says it all. “Our motto is, Let Your Hand-Me-Downs Lend a Helping Hand,” Katie explained. “I think that really says a lot about what we’re doing.”

Kidz Clothes, which provides free clothing for struggling families, had its genesis at the First Orlando Student Ministry’s April 2009 “Amp’d Truck” outreach at Hankins Park, located a mile north of the church just off John Young Parkway. The Amp’d Truck outreach is a ministry where First Orlando’s students go to the park for several hours, play with the children, provide them with snacks, a lot of loving companionship and a Gospel message designed especially for them.

First Orlando has had six such outreaches so far, with Oct. 31, 2009 being the most recent. But it was that first one back in April that sparked an idea in Katie’s head and heart. “A little boy came up to Keith [Harmon, First Orlando’s Student Ministry Pastor at the time] and asked him if there were going to be any clothes being given away.”

Caption: First Orlando student volunteers serve at the Kidz Clothes table.

The Amp’d Truck outreaches provide many benefits to the children who attend them, but, until Oct. 31, clothes weren’t one of them. “When that little boy asked about clothes, Keith felt really bad that we didn’t have any to give away. We were going to run to Wal-Mart and buy him a couple of dollar things for him to wear.”

However, running to Wal-Mart every time a child needs clothes isn’t practical and Katie realized a more permanent solution was necessary. “I knew God was calling me and that’s when I got the idea to collect clothes to help these kids.”

And that’s exactly what she did. “I had a bunch of clothing at home that I didn’t need, plus I asked people — friends and family — to donate clothes they didn’t need,” Katie explained.

Her collection efforts were impressive as 395 articles of clothing were accumulated. Her plan is to give the clothes away to children of struggling families at the Student Ministry’s monthly Amp’d Truck outreach. Oct. 31 was her first giveaway and it was a major success as 173 articles of clothing were distributed. Not only that, Katie was able to pray with each person who came for clothes.

However, if there was something that took Katie by surprise, it was the humility of those who approached her for clothes. “It was touching to see that people were actually afraid to come and take clothes,” she said. “It made me sad to see them ashamed. I don’t want to do this to make people feel more ashamed; I want to do this because I want to help them when no one else will.”

Caption: A satisfied customer shows off his new Florida Gator shirt.

Katie’s mother, Heidi, is proud of her daughter. “This idea to start a clothes closet for children is just wonderful,” Heidi said. “She has done this all on her own without any help from us [the family] other than encouragement. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at what she is doing.”

According to Heidi, Katie’s ministry is the result of what has been ingrained in her daughter over the course of several years. “My husband [Ken] has always instilled in our kids a heart to serve, and this is a way for Katie to do that — to give back. She is so excited to be doing this.”

Katie shared her excitement following the ministry’s first day of clothes distribution. “Overall, I think it was a great success for my first run,” she said. “I thank everyone for helping me on Saturday, and those who donated clothes.”

For Katie, Kidz Clothes is a ministry of the Lord’s making and she is grateful He chose her to oversee it. “I feel blessed that God has given me the heart and the ability to reach out to those who are less fortunate,” she said. “I want to thank God, for giving me the opportunity to share His love through something as simple as clothing!”

Posted in: Local Missions