Standing Stone Community Center


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Ministry Taking Donations for Less Fortunate Families

Oct 3, 2012 - Dawn Thomson

taking-donations.jpgResidents in need of clothing and other household items are finding help at a local ministry.

Standing Stone Community Center, 201 N. Sixth St., is a non-profit ministry that offers low-cost clothes, furniture, books, movies and other household items.

For residents in need, individuals are allowed to choose up to five clothing items per month at no cost.

Dawn Thomson, executive director of Standing Stone Community Center, was inspired to begin the ministry after watching the movie "The Touch."

"As soon as that movie was over, it impacted me so much that I literally drew out what the plans to a community center should look like," Thomson said.

After drawing out plans for the ministry, she began visiting other local ministries to gain a better understanding of what needs there were in the community.

"The (needs) that kept coming up were low-cost or no-cost clothing and furniture," she said.

In November 2011, Thomson bought a warehouse with no water, electricity or gas lines.

"We started from square one," she said.

Thomson renovated a majority of the building, adding dry wall, lighting and bathrooms to create the look and feel of a store.

With the addition of racks she received free from a Mattoon thrift store that was closing, Thomson was ready to begin arranging donated items and open her doors to the community.

Most of the items Thomson receives are donated by residents who drop off items every Wednesday and Saturday in an enclosed trailer at the ministry.

"I have been really blessed as far as folks generously giving a little bit of everything," Thomson said.

Numerous volunteers help Thomson run the ministry. In total, volunteers devote between 60 and 90 hours of their time to help those in the community, Thomson said.

She estimates that over the past three months, the ministry has served more than 350 residents to find clothing and other items they might need. And with winter nearing, Thomson said she has been selling more cold-weather items.

Thomson said she enjoys watching children as they find an item they might want or need and seeing their faces light up.

"That makes it all worthwhile," She said.

Besides providing residents in need with clothing and other household items, Standing Stone Community Center is also preparing to provide food to residents the last Saturday of every month.

Thomson said weekend food services were another hole she saw in the community that needed filled. While residents can find food pantries open during the weekdays, Coles County does not provide any weekend meal services, she said.

Thomson is aiming to open the ministry's kitchen by the last Saturday of October and to serve food provided through a partnership with local restaurants or Eastern.