Local ministers join together to provide free winter clothing

By Nicole Daughhetee
Staff Reporter

Growing up in Miami, I experienced only two seasonal changes: hot and humid in the fall and winter followed by extremely hot and humid in the spring and summer. Amusement abounded each September when department stores would begin stocking wool pants and puffy down-filled jackets.
Winter has taken on an entirely new connotation in the decade I have lived in South Carolina. For the first time in my life, I actually have a need for a winter coat, and I am fortunate enough to be able to afford one. Others, however, do not have the same luxury.
This Saturday, Dec. 4, marks the ninth year of the Winter Warmth clothing distribution in Pickens.
In years past, Winter Warmth was held at Pickens Presbyterian Church. However, the dramatic growth in need and donations has warranted a change in location. This year the clothing distribution is located in the old Winn Dixie building in Pickens. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, anyone in need of warm winter clothing can visit the distribution center and receive free clothing until 11:30 a.m. that morning.
Many individuals and families are having a difficult time staying afloat in our current economic crisis, and mortgages, rent, electricity, heat and groceries aren’t cheap. Those living on fixed incomes often have to choose between eating and taking prescribed medications. After making the house and utility payments, others find there isn’t enough money left over for anything else.
Churches have always been the cornerstones of the community. Reverend Nath Briley, pastor of Pickens Presbyterian, said “caring for the community and ministering to those in need has always been one of the church’s central callings.”
Briley, along with the leaders of four other local churches, joined together to revive The Pickens Ministerial Association.
Reverends Jimmy Dillard of Grace Methodist, Bob Kasting of Faith Lutheran, Lewis Edwards of Pickens View Wesleyan, Briley of Pickens Presbyterian and Father Efiong of Holy Cross Catholic Church meet once a month as The Pickens Ministerial Association.
“We enjoy one another,” Briley said. “When we get together, we discuss the needs in the community, we pray for the community and we minister to one another. Ministries vary among churches. We have decided to work together for the benefit of Pickens.”
This Saturday will be the first time these five churches have worked jointly on the Winter Warmth clothing distribution. Each church congregation collected donations of a specific article of winter clothing. On Friday, volunteers from each congregation will sort and organize the donations for Saturday’s distribution.
“Clothing will be available to people of all ages — from infant to adult,” Briley said. “It is all free. Whatever clothing we don’t give away on Saturday will be given to community organizations in Pickens so it will find its way to someone who needs it.”
Winter weather is certainly on the way, and no one should have to suffer through a cold winter. Anyone interested in making a donation to Winter Warmth is asked to contact Rev. Nath Briley, president of The Pickens Ministerial Association, at (864) 878-9422.