Helping Those in Need

communityservicesST. JOHNSBURY- If you are around Saint Johnsbury, you might see a small building at the end of Steeple Place, located between the North Congregational and St. John Churches. This is where members of the community go if they are in need of clothes or food. 

 Kingdom Community Services started over 20 years ago, with the help of Sharon Heidemann. Heidemann, who manages the nonprofit organization, explains how one of her friends first got the idea.

“[She] used to work in the school system, and used to notice some student’s didn’t have winter clothing.” Heidemann said.

After that, Kingdom Community Services was made. Members of the community gave away clothes or food that they wanted to donate, and the small building returned these items to those in need. The door on the left would lead to the clothing store, and the door on the right would lead to food donations.

Lydia Chartier, who has been volunteering for about a year, noticed an odd trend in recent times.

“And I noticed we were getting donations in, not clothing donations, but a lot of boots, blankets, jackets, and we came up with the idea ‘Why don’t we just give it to people who are in need of it?’” Cartier said.

Chartier and the other volunteers were on to something, and were given positive feedback. Then, Chartier came up with a plan.

"We started putting in outside and people were just taking it. Put a little ‘Free' sign out there, people would go through and they were doing great, so we decided to fix the upstairs, that's what I did." Chartier said.

After noticing the success, she renovated one of the rooms upstairs and started a program called Keep Us Warm. Working above the food shelf, Keep Us Warm now gives winter apparel to those in need while Kingdom Community Services helps those with clothes in general.

Judy Shaefer shops at Kingdom Community Services in order to provide for herself and her children. She says that the volunteers really understand her troubles and are more than willing to help her out.

"When I come in here I tell them 'I can't afford anything' and they're like 'That's fine', and I walk out with a bag of clothes. And they're brand new looking, they're the stuff you'd find at a store that's $50 for one top." Shaefer says.

Shaefer really appreciates being able to talk with volunteers like Heidemann and Chartier, a big difference from big-name clothing stores, she says. And at the end of the day, everyone benefits from giving the clothing away.

"And when you leave, you feel great, because they made you feel that awesome, and they made your day. You also made their day, too, by coming in and looking at what they have to offer for the community." Shaefer says.

Kingdom Community Services and the Keep Us Warm program are entirely run by volunteers and donations. The work of Heidemann and Chartier makes the lives of those like Shaefer that much easier.

If you are interested in donating food or clothing, call Kingdom Community Services at 802-751-8581. 

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