BROWNSBURG — Debbie Wingler calls it an “indoor garage sale with a twist.” The twist is that everything is free, and the annual Pay it Forward event at The Journey Church here is larger than ever.
This is the fourth year for the event, which turns the church into somewhat of a large department store.
They are currently accepting drop off donations between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The actual shopping event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 8.
The premise is very simple. Community members in need can come to the church, shop for items they need, and get everything for free.
“Everyone in the community who could use a blessing is welcome to come and shop for free,” Wingler said. “We don’t have any criteria. Any age is welcome. We’ll have stuff for newborns all the way up to all adult sizes, all children’s sizes in shoes and clothes, and we’ll have toys. The last two years we’ve had to use the entire church because every room was full of donations. We go from one department to the next. After 1 p.m., we will reorganize and reopen the doors and people can come take what’s leftover.”
Items are organized in separate rooms, such as clothing, toys, and what they call their “big ticket items.”
“Last year was kind of cool because we had a kitchen remodel that we took in, and we had a kitchen sink that was given away,” Mark Wingler said. “A guy came in and got the sink and filled his shopping baskets, and came in and said, ‘I got everything and the kitchen sink.’
“The people in our community who are truly needy are very grateful. They talk about the blessing. This event is for them to be able to provide toys and goods for their kids. The fact is, we probably get more out of it than they do. It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to help those people because of economic situation or what life has shown them and they really need that hand up to get started again. It’s been pretty incredible.”
Debbie said the ‘pay it forward’ aspect of the event is shown through the actions of those who shop.
“Last year we had a family come in, a woman named Trish with two little kids, and they were carrying bags full of stuff to donate, and she said that she was teaching the kids that this week today we’re going to give to the event, and next week we’re going to come back and go shopping,” Debbie said. “She was teaching them the pay it forward aspect. We get people in here who are hard working people but maybe they’ve had a medical problem, a husband not able to work because he had surgery, or they’re just down on their luck short term and they come in and they thank you and they make you cry saying that ‘you made our Christmas.’”
Debbie said a lot of the items already donated are brand new, still in packages. Some are items, especially in the big ticket item room, that can really be a big addition.
“There will be someone that comes in here and needs a stove that can’t spend $500 on one,” she says of an electric stove that was donated. “What we do with our big ticket items is, we put your name on it and when you’re done shopping, we’ll load it in your car for you. There are a lot of things we take for granted. It’s just amazing the blessing you get. People come in that have had cancer and lost a lot of weight. We walk them through the store, get them clothes that fit them now, and clothes that will fit them as they start to get healthy.”
This year, another new addition has come through a partnership with New Day Church, also in Brownsburg. Both churches are asking their respective congregations to fill up shopping bags with non-perishable food items so that everyone that comes to Pay it Forward can leave with food as well as needed items.
Mark said they’d like to see more and more churches become involved in the program and would like to one day see it grow to the point where it needs to move somewhere larger.
“We believe it’s not about religion, it’s about relationships, and the best way to show Christ to others is to live it in front of them,” he said. “We don’t say you have to come to church, we don’t pass out literature about the church, and this has nothing to do with The Journey Church. It has everything to do with the community.”
Anyone who would like to donate to the cause may simply come to the back doors of the church during the day and knock.
For more information, call the church at 852-4630 or visit the website at 4journey.com.