Dwell’s Community Clothing Outreach (CCO) ministry offers new and gently used clothing to those in need. Its goal though is deeper than that–its leader and founder, Sarah Fusner, says its leaders and volunteers also want to connect with and encourage those who are served by the ministry. She says the clothing is offered in a store setting, so people can browse for what they need, and volunteers are on hand to talk with shoppers, pray with them, and share Christ’s love with them.
The ministry serves a huge number of people–Sarah says they have offered over 15,000 clothing items to shoppers, through over 750 appointments with people this year. All this is possible, she says, because of volunteers, and asks you to consider joining their team. They need people on Wednesday mornings to sort and organize donations, and then on Saturday mornings to serve in the store (at Dwell’s 4th Street location–1950 N. 4th Street).
Sarah says they are particularly in need of Team Leads, to oversee volunteers and store operations when it is open on Saturdays. Click here to learn more about this and other volunteer opportunities.
Sarah says CCO is a great place for people to volunteer with members of their home group, mentors/disciples, spouse, co-workers, or neighbors. “Literally anyone who comes with the willingness to help others can serve in this ministry! We listen to music, chat with each other, and make connections and friendships. It is a joyful atmosphere.”
Lane Rudolph is a long-time volunteer with CCO. His fiancé Erika Miller has now joined him in serving in this ministry. Lane answers some questions about his experience:
What have you been doing as a volunteer for CCO? What prompted you to get involved?
I got started with CCO after some friends from my Bible study were asking for volunteers to help out. Just a couple years ago, that meant handing out clothes from Sarah Fusner's garage and front lawn. The people we helped were so grateful for the opportunity to shop with us. Even back then CCO had the goal in mind to create a shopping experience that brought a bible verse, comfort, and dignity to the shopper.
In the summer of 2021, we prepared the 4th Street location and moved in. Sarah got her garage back and CCO took up a prime location smack dab in the middle of our shopper’s bus routes. We put our logo on the door and turned the lights on. Since then, we’ve helped over 1000 shoppers.
What has been your experience? How have you seen God work--both in the lives of others and in your life?
The first time I volunteered, when I arrived, I was given the choice to take a role that either greeted shoppers, hung up donations, prayed with people, or ran the checkout line–whatever I felt most comfortable doing that day. After just a couple times of volunteering I could see how much of an impact that helping shoppers and having conversations with them meant. There were even some shoppers who were asking us to pray with them! Over the past couple years, I’ve had plenty of spiritual conversations with both shoppers and the volunteers themselves. Many of the shoppers are open to answering questions about their own lives if you just simply ask. They definitely give you plenty to pray about with them. In regards to volunteers, we’ve had people in Dwell and those outside Dwell--OSU students, charitable men and women, and weekend warriors who don’t yet know Jesus come by. They clearly have soft hearts, and I’ve always loved initiating conversations while working alongside them.
I understand your fiancé has now joined you in volunteering--talk about that experience.
Erika and I will be getting married in November. We find it important to be outward focused and serving with CCO is an easy way to do that. Since I’ve been serving with this organization long before I met her, it was an easy choice to try to have her join in on the Saturdays I was already serving. At first I made sure to serve with her doing the same task, however, she’s quickly grown comfortable enough to do any of the roles by herself.
Would you recommend others get involved as a volunteer and why?
I’d absolutely recommend getting involved. It’s easy! Sarah’s always made it simple. You just go to this link to sign up. No training, no background checks, no long-term commitment, just two hours on a Saturday morning. Come serve with us any Saturday of the month except the last one.
CCO is always evolving and trying to improve our ability to get people the help they need. We could use your ideas. We welcome them. Please come volunteer with us anytime you’re free. It’s easy and impactful.
If you have clothing to donate, please email CCO. The ministry particularly needs cold weather items.