By: Eugenia Jones
The success of the Community Closets through Hills and Hollers Ministries is undeniable. What began as an outreach, based out of rented storage units, to assist children in Head Start with clothing needs has now grown to two 8 x 10 metal shed “closets” with one located at the Whitley City Head Start and the second at Pine Knot Primary School. In addition, two community centers have been established at the former Eagle Elementary School and the former Kentucky Hills Crafts building in Pine Knot.
Pastor Jim Cmolik, while celebrating the first anniversary of the Pine Knot Community Center, shared the story of the clothing outreach through Hills and Hollers Ministries.
“We were always getting calls from the Head Start to help with the clothing needs of children,” Cmolik commented. “We started helping with that a lot and then started asking ourselves how we could be more effective.”
Cmolik got his answer one day when he noticed a metal storage shed located by the Head Start. It wasn’t long before Jim and his wife Rita had the Community Closets at the Head Start and Primary in place.
“We noticed that the staff at the Head Start and the Pine Knot Primary locations were using their closets to help meet the needs of entire families as they went out to do home visits,” Cmolik explained. “That’s when we decided to establish Community Centers.”
The concept of the Community Centers is based on the fundamental belief of Hills and Hollers Ministries that everything in life is based on establishing relationships.
“The primary reason Hills and Hollers exists is to establish relationships,” Cmolik declared. “Life is all about forming relationships with Jesus and our neighbors. It’s all about learning how to take care of others.”
Cmolik admitted the ministry did not want to establish an ordinary “give away” place but wanted, instead, to build a place where people could feel an attachment.
“We made the Center a cooperative with folks receiving a membership card after signing an agreement to not sell what they receive. They use the card for a monthly “shopping” visit, and they use it with pride! We also ask that they give back in the form of “donated clothes” when able or by volunteering time to help us at the Center.”
The Center at Pine Knot goes beyond meeting the clothing needs of people. After one patron stopped by to share her grief over a personal loss, Cmolik emphasized the overall mission.
“This is a place to meet physical and emotional needs,” he noted. “That’s the true purpose of this place.”
In addition to building relationships and providing clothing to those who are hurting or in need, the two centers provide space to coordinate summer house repair projects through summer missionaries, address the needs of those who have suffered catastrophic house fires, and sponsor periodic household supply giveaways. The Hills and Hollers Ministry also sponsors a Christmas outreach so parents and children can come and select new and gently used gifts to give others. A highlight of the Christmas project is the chance to give children in need the opportunity to “shop” for gifts for their parents. The gifts are attractively wrapped so each child can give their parents a “real” present.
The Pine Knot Center is open on Monday and Wednesday from 11:00-4:00 for those in need and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 until 5:00 to receive donations.
The Eagle Center, with volunteer managers Deanie and Hotshot Perry, is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00-4:00.
Donations of clean, new, or gently used clothing are accepted from members of the public, churches, and agencies. Cmolik asks that donated clothing not be left on the porches but brought in when a volunteer worker is available to receive the donation.