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BLOOMINGTON — The offers to help Community Christian Concern rebuild its homeless shelter on the Gulf Coast have been very sweet but sometimes a bit impractical, the Rev. Eugene Wellington said.

Even an offer to provide the shelter in Slidell, La., with donated clothing from Bloomington's Home Sweet Home Ministries was very nice, said Wellington, who runs the shelter. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina damaged the shelter and destroyed the church, so he does not have a place to store the four semitrailer loads of donated clothing.

But spokeswoman Sabrina Burkiewicz said Home Sweet Home was determined to find a way to use the clothing to help those affected by the hurricane that hit Louisiana on Aug. 29.

The local faith-based organization found a way by selling the clothing to a company in Ohio and donating the $2,500 gained from the sale to Community Christian Concern shelter.

"It was an awesome shock when I got a call that the Lord came through with a way for us to be helped by those donations," Wellington said. "Just like Jesus who turned water into wine, and they turned dresses into money."

Burkiewicz said the donation will be on its way to the shelter sometime next week.

Wellington said the money will go toward purchasing freezers for the shelter's food pantry.

The freezers will come in handy now because the shelter is preparing to distribute its annual holiday food baskets.

The money left after purchasing two freezers will be used to buy ham, chicken and other meat to stock the freezers.

Burkiewicz said Home Sweet Home found local church groups who were making trips to the Gulf States to take food and toys donated by local residents. However, finding a way to distribute the clothing became a problem.

"We couldn't find anyone who was going to the region to take the clothing and there was no way we could afford to pay for drivers and fuel to drive the semis there," she said. "And we were facing a time problem. Clothing cannot sit there forever."

After an exhaustive search to find a way to move the clothing south, Burkiewicz said the suggestion was made to contact Ohio Mills Corp., a company Home Sweet Home worked with before when it had clothing donations it could not use for the ministries' thrift shop.

Burkiewicz found Wellington's shelter after an Internet search.

"They do the exact same thing we do," she added. "They try to reach people through Jesus by helping with a food pantry and a shelter."

Community Christian Concern is the only shelter in Slidell, a community of about 40,000. The organization served about 7,500 people last year, Wellington said.


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