(WJHL) — An Army veteran is dedicated to serving the community through his work and leadership of the First Presbyterian Church’s outreach ministry in Kingsport.
Seventeen years ago, Don Thompson started volunteering for the church’s outreach ministry called The Clothes Closet, which provides clothing to people in need. He was quickly promoted.
“I was working with them for about three or four months and the situation arose where they needed a director and I told them I wasn’t the person, but they said, ‘Hey, you’re the person.’ So, for the last 16 years, I’ve been the director of this ministry,” Thompson said.
Thompson says he is blessed to help people who benefit from the ministry and he says the need has grown during the pandemic. Even other organizations come to them for help.
“The Red Cross, the fire department knows in case of a fire. The police department knows. Hope Haven, the other churches — they all refer people to us,” he said.
From men’s suits to kids’ shoes, Thompson works with dozens of volunteers, sorting clean clothes and helping people of all ages find something that fits.
“They are all very grateful,” Thompson said of the outreach’s clients. “And most can’t believe the variety and the quality of the clothing and donations that we have.”
Some clients even try to return the clothing they receive to benefit someone else. But Thompson refuses.
“You don’t bring it back,” he tells them. “It’s yours. It’s a gift from God.”
A gift, that volunteers hope will inspire those who visit.
“We try to reach out. We want the public to know that we’re here, we’re here for them, and God is here for them,” Thompson said.