Churches, shoppers support those in need with donations, purchases
by Rachel Miller
September 14, 2013 12:04 AM | 2167 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Linda Oviatt of Our Father's Hands thrift boutique in Powder Springs, stands among the racks of clothing offered for sale at the store on New Macland Road. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Linda Oviatt of Our Father's Hands thrift boutique in Powder Springs, stands among the racks of clothing offered for sale at the store on New Macland Road.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
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POWDER SPRINGS — After years of referring clients to each other and duplicating services, two local nonprofits started a partnership this month to help those in need across city and county lines.

Christian Aid Mission Partnership and Our Father’s Hands announced that the two non-denominational, faith-based organizations have merged to better serve their clients and communities.

Christian Aid is in Austell near Lithia Springs at 6289 Veterans Memorial Highway, which Director Darlene Duke said is a low income area.

“That is the reason we are here and will stay here,” Duke said.

Our Father’s Hands, at 2120 New Macland Road, is in Powder Springs near Hiram.

“We won’t turn anyone away in need,” said Director of Outreach Linda Oviatt, who added the main mission of both groups is to “interrupt poverty.”

“Every family is one financial crisis away from spiraling out of control and into poverty,” Oviatt said.

Clients are sent from churches, local businesses and social workers, Oviatt said.

Duke said Christian Aid’s strength is overseeing administrative services, while Our Father’s Hands is best at networking and bringing awareness to the community.

“(Oviatt) can be out there telling our story and finding the gap in services,” Duke said.

Christian Aid Mission Partnership and Our Father’s Hands will announce a new name for the united ministries in October at the annual Empty Plate Gala.

Shopping for a cause

Founded in 2005, Our Father’s Hands includes a trendy resale shop called Clothing for a Cause, which is housed in a brick building painted with graffiti to attract teenage shoppers.

Clothing for a Cause is like a boutique where customers shop for themselves and also support community members they might never meet.

“People want to be about something,” said Oviatt, who was a foster mom to children younger than 5 years old while living in Miami before moving to Georgia.

Oviatt said donated items are sorted for the highest quality pieces to be resold.

Referred clients get credit to shop at Clothing for a Cause, where they can pick out clothes and even try items on in the fitting room, which Oviatt said gives them a sense of dignity back.

The most typical donated items are women’s clothing from stores such as Banana Republic skirt and Ann Taylor, Oviatt said. The shop’s biggest need is clothing for young children, teens and college students.

“(The sales) generate the funds to purchase new clothes, underwear and shoes,” Oviatt said.

Our Father’s Hands supplies homeless children in Cobb County schools with these items and uniforms of khaki pants and polo shirts.

Last school year, Cobb County served 1,575 homeless children, said Cobb County School District spokesman Doug Goodwin.

Oviatt said the organization gifted clothing to 200 children in the first two weeks of this school year.

Long-term aid

Christian Aid was founded in 1968. Duke said the organization has offered basic needs, such as 1 million pounds of food annually, as well as hygiene products, and financial aid to help pay for medications and car repairs.

Funding for Christian Aid comes from an “equal spread” of support from local churches and businesses, as well as individual donations, Duke said. A fourth of funding is provided by small grants and assistance from United Way.

Duke, who was born in Austell and lives in Mableton, said low-income families do not have to live in a certain city or county in order to receive assistance, and proof of United States citizenship is not needed.

The organization has turned down some grants that come with “heavy burdens” that place restrictions on who can be helped, Duke said.

The down economy has caused residents to be unemployed for years, which has tripled demand, Duke said. This has led to Christian Aid increasing its services at the 18,000-square-foot property.

New education programs on computer training, job interviewing skills and financial information are designed to help clients become self-sufficient.

“These skill sets help the clients move forward,” Duke said. “We try to let people know that they can do it.”

In a year, Our Father’s Hands building is slated to be torn down for a road project, but Oviatt said she is not worried.

“God lead me to the first location,” Oviatt said. “He will move us to where we are supposed to be.”

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