Underwear. Briefs. Panties. Boxers. Bras. Drawers. Skivvies. Undies. If you want to step back in time: smallclothes, loincloths, intimates, undergarments… We all wear them, hardly think anything of them. Yet a simple ministry centered on these smallest of clothing items is meeting a need about which you probably had no awareness. I would like to introduce you to the ministry so aptly named Brief Blessings.
Many of you are familiar with Dayton’s Shoes 4 the Shoeless, a ministry that provides shoes to children who suffer without shoes or have significantly undersized shoes. With each set of shoes they provide socks and a Bible. Apex Community Church has often communicated their efforts to serve these children and their families. During the course of their ministry and due to the related provision of socks, they were approached repeatedly by people making clear their desperate need for underwear. Brief Blessings was founded to meet this need, but they are still small and definitely need our help. The need is great and the workers are few.
Brief Blessings provides brand new underwear to more than 60 schools all around Dayton, creating a resource for needy children who would have no other recourse. Imagine a young child who uncontrollably wets themselves while at school and does not have a replacement. Not only must they suffer through the day at school, they often do not have a replacement at home, either. It gets worse: they often have only one pair of pants. Now, imagine the cruelty we all know that children are capable of. Imagine the suffering and indignity of the unavoidable aroma and lack of hygiene that might follow the child for days. It is hard to imagine the emotional stress and scarring that would last for years after these traumatic events which are rarely a single occurrence.
These children are at the mercy of others and have nowhere to turn; and no child’s age group is spared. Young girls are entering adulthood without their practical needs met. Kelly Parr, the chairperson of Brief Blessings, tells the story of a girl who was at school when she had a startling surprise. She started her transition to adulthood at school without any of the required preparations. Her only option was to approach the school nurse who could only offer a pair of boxers and a Kotex as a remedy. The stories abound with children who wet themselves and are sent back to class without any clean clothing and have to continue wearing the same clothing for days. Even more poignant are the cases where their parents have cell phones and brand name purses and clothing all while leaving their children’s basic needs unanswered.
Currently, Brief Blessings is delivering more than 5,000 pairs of underwear each year. Even with what seems to be such a large number, anyone who knows anything about children knows that a child’s clothing simply doesn’t last; if for no other reason than the fact that children just keep on growing. These same children need our help, but they are not the only ones affected by this ministry. The surprising side-effect has been the pressure relief of the school nurses themselves who are on the front lines with these children. They deal with this all-too-common issue and have no way of meeting the needs with which they are confronted. There seem to be as many stories of how this ministry has affected the school nurses, bringing them to tears of joy and gratitude, as there are about the children they serve.
There are still more children that have this need which would not be resolved even if every school had an unlimited supply. According to Kelly, the local homeless shelters have seen record numbers of children over the last few years. Boys and girls of all ages need support. This is a world in need. Children need underwear. Everyone needs Christ. It is my prayer that we share the love of Christ by meeting the practical needs of children throughout the Dayton area.
If you're interested in learning more about Brief Blessings please visit http://shoes4theshoeless.org/brief-blessings/.
Author: Jonathan Allain
Photographer: Angela Jekeli