Loudon Cumberland gives warmth

Debby Rupe, left, and Linda Karaba sort clothing Saturday morning at Loudon Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Loudon Cumberland Presbyterian Church opened its doors to the community Saturday for those looking for winter clothing.

The three-hour emphasis marked the return of the annual outerwear and blanket program after cancellation last year due to the pandemic. The church fellowship hall was filled with children’s and adult sweaters, scarves, toboggans, mittens and blankets.

“Throughout the year, and in this case it’s been two years, church members and people from the community who are familiar with this project bring things,” Linda Karaba, program chairwoman, said. “We have a storage room to put it in there, so then we brought everything down last night to set it up.”

More than 40 people took advantage of the giveaway, which left Karaba and others pleased since they didn’t know what turnout to expect.

The church has offered free winter clothing since November 2015.

“As a church, we’re more than just an inward-looking group of people,” Karaba said. “We give to the community, we give to other countries when disasters, that kind of thing, so it’s just a normal outreach of our church to do things in the community.”

“So many people don’t have the finances to buy warm clothes and even here in this warmer part of the world they still need them, so yeah, it’s a wonderful opportunity,” Debby Rupe, church missions committee member, added. “I so appreciate Linda and her vision for this.”

The giveaway also helps members interact with the community and introduce them to the church. Brochures were given to anyone who wanted more information.

“One gentleman, he was here at 7 o’clock sitting outside in the cold,” Karaba said. “I got here at 10 after 8 (a.m.) and I didn’t realize at that time that he he been out there that long. I said, ‘Well, we’ll probably opening up about 8:30.’ He said, ‘Would you mind if I came inside? I’m just really cold.’ He came in and actually helped me with doing a couple of little last-minute items and help put small streamers outside. I gave a brochure about the church, and he indicated he might come to church tomorrow. … It gives us an opportunity to talk to people in the community..”

Any remaining clothing was either donated to Goodwill or stored for future use.

“What happens is during the winter sometimes people will stop by at the office and ask if us if we have anything for them,” Karaba said. “So our administrative assistant takes them upstairs and gives them something.”

Rupe delivered a carload of clothing to help refugees in Knoxville. She works with Bridge Refugee Services and Knoxville Internationals Network.

“Of course, now we’re getting even more refugees into Knoxville because of the Afghanistan situation, so there’s quite a number of Afghans as well as Africans that come regularly into Knoxville,” Rupe said. “… A lot of these people are coming from warmer countries that don’t need a lot of warm clothes. But KIN and Bridge do wonderful work with internationals, and I teach a couple English as Second Language classes with them.”