(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, June 05, 2014 1:47 PM
SULPHUR — True to its unconventional style, Open Door Biker Church has made new waves in the community with its latest outreach program, a garage sale giveaway.
The church, at 423 W. Burton St., is hosting a weeklong garage sale giveaway. The staff will work the event 8 a.m.-4 p.m. through Friday. But the tent will be available to shoppers around the clock.
For nine years, pastors Vince and Bridget Guidry have been creatively reaching out to the community with their ministry, known for its free daily lunches.
The idea of a “garage free” giveaway came to the couple after a four-day event last month where church members donated items that residents could take with them free of charge. Vince said church members have been shocked by the support that has flooded in.
“It has just snowballed,” he said. “It feels good to watch people get stuff that they can’t afford to buy.”
The church receives donations at a storage site and hauls truckloads of supplies to the tent each day. Tables filled with books, toys, clothes and other household items sit under an outdoor tent donated by Chesson Law Firm. Washers, dryers, and workout equipment also have been donated for the event.
After learning of a woman who recently lost her home, Bridget said she began gathering household supplies from storage, setting her up with basic kitchenware and other necessities.
“We have 10 times as much as we have out there, and we put new stuff out each day,” Vince said.
The couple has been surprised at how difficult it is for people to understand the concept of “garage free.” Vince said many shoppers leave speechless after they hear they can take home whatever they need.
“Take all you want. It’s free with no strings attached, nothing,” he said. “We’re not going to preach to you or beat you over the head with a Bible or make you come to church.”
Friends Carolyn Woton and Rose Taylor browsed through the merchandise Tuesday during their visit to Sulphur from Michigan. Taylor came down for her stepmother’s funeral and shopped for some new clothes and gifts for her father.
“I like it,” Taylor said. “Every state should have it. Michigan really doesn’t have anything like this. This is awesome for the people that can’t afford stuff.”
Woton said she was also inspired to bring the idea back to Michigan.
“It is a shocking thing for me. I think it’s marvelous for these poor people wsho can’t afford to go buy this,” she said. “Every town should have something like this.”
Inspired by the event’s success, church members plan to host another giveaway before the end of the summer. They are gathering uniforms and school supplies to help prepare students for the coming school year.
“It’s fun,” Vince said. “And like I said, you can’t outgive God, but it’s fun to try. People just come out here wanting to help, and it’s growing.”
After talking with a woman who came to shop at the garage sale before moving, Vince said he was encouraged that the idea might spread through people like her into other communities.
The Guidrys were also encouraged by the number of people who took items from the garage sale and then returned with their own donations.
“It just lifts everybody up,” Vince said. “They are able to not just take, but they’re able to give by bringing stuff back. It gives everybody a good feeling.”