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Millington Crisis Center bridging the gap for those in need at Christmas, toys needed for area children

By Linda CooperCrisis Donated children's clothing and other items

Crisis Center Director Lois Wilber has positive messages in her office to keep her inspired as the needs grows in her city.

Crisis Center Director Lois Wilber has positive messages in her office to keep her inspired as the needs grows in her city.

In a small two bedroom house located at 8133 Wilkinsville Road, which once served as the parsonage for the First Baptist Church, the Millington Crisis Center ministry is coming to the aid of many in our community who need a helping hand.
Founded in 1987 by Cynthia and Russell Neighbors in the aftermath of severe flooding in the city which caused extensive damage to many homes, displacing residents, the Center was established with the mission of coordinating community efforts and resources in meeting needs of Millington-area families faced with crises.
An all-volunteer, independent nonprofit organization, according to Center’s Director Lois Wilber, the Crisis Center’s outreach provides help to those in need offering a wide range of services including monetary assistance with rent and utilities, clothing, household and  personal care items, as well as referrals for additional social service resources. Food also is provided in collaboration with the Millington food pantry located at the First United Methodist Church. During this Christmas season, there is an immediate need for toys, in particular, for boys and girls ages 10-14.
The Center helps families within the 38053 zip code as well as the Northaven community, as children from the area attend Millington schools.
Persons requesting assistance must first call the Crisis Center at 872-HELP (4357) to arrange an appointment and complete a client information form detailing income and expense information and outlining the specific need. For their appointment, persons should bring a copy of their lease, utility bill, Social Security card and proof of income. The hours of service are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
A communitywide effort, the home which houses the operations of the Crisis Center is owned by the city and donated to the nonprofit for its use. In addition, the Millington Kiwanis Club funds the organization’s telephone service. Funded entirely by donations, Wilber notes many area churches are instrumental in assisting the Center in its mission including First Baptist Church, St. William’s Catholic Church, St. Anne’s Episcopal, the Bolton Full Gospel Church, the Church of God in Christ in Rosemark and Lucy Baptist.
Further, as space is limited at the Crisis Center, Kingston Lake Storage provides a unit for its use, and Open Marketplace located at 8235 Highway 51 North, provides a booth space as well as a drop-off point for donated items. Dollar General Stores donates seasonal items, and Wal-Mart donates packages of new underclothing that have been opened by customers and thus cannot be sold.
“We don’t necessarily need help all the time in big ways, but if help comes all of the time in small ways, with everybody working together it makes it even better,” Wilber says.
The Center welcomes monetary donations as well as donations of gently used clothing, usable household items and furniture, as well as new personal-care items such as deodorant, deodorant soap and toothpaste.
Wilber, who has been serving as the Center’s volunteer director for seven years says, “I was brought up volunteering.” She has served as a volunteer in a variety of roles in churches she has attended through the years, as well as with the Navy Wives Club, where she is a past national president. So, it’s no surprise that the local Navy Wives Club also supports the Center’s ministry.
Patricia Warner who serves as the Center’s assistant director began volunteering after her house caught fire and she lost her son. A homemaker, she came to the Center eight yeas ago on behalf of her church, the Church of God In Christ in Rosemark, to ask how the church may be of assistance.
Warner notes she has seen an increase in need in recent years, particularly with discharged military service members and their families, the soldiers returning from deployment suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or those with an education  and skills struggling to find employment. In addition, she says many of the families they serve are elderly on fixed incomes, many elderly grandparents raising their grandchildren.
On a recent Thursday, the Center was able to help one such grandmother make a payment on her utility bill (the limit is $200), and with food from the food pantry.
A family new to the city also received assistance with utilities and food, information on assistance with their application for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as information on assistance available at the Millington Library toward earning a GED diploma or certificate.
Another family received assistance with their rent payment, employment search, health care information, as well as food.
A single father receiving short-term disability received advice on how to deal with the health insurance company’s failure to provide his disability benefits, as well as assistance with his utility bill and food. Upon leaving the Center he gave Wilber a hug.
Another single father also received assistance with his utility bill, and an elderly couple on a fixed income received assistance in paying for repairs to their vehicle from an accident they suffered earlier in the week.
All of the families were invited to “shop” the Center for needed clothing and household items. All items are provided to those in need, free of charge. In addition, all of the children’s names from the families seen that day were placed on the Center’s Angel Tree list to receive three Christmas gifts (three gifts, because Jesus received three gifts.)
Each of the families expressed their gratitude for the assistance and several asked how they may be able to contribute by donating clothing or household items themselves.
Other volunteers help sort clothing and other donated items, and help to keep the house clean, keeping everything as neat and orderly as possible within the limited space available in the house.
On that same Thursday, a retired U.S. Marine stopped by the Center to drop off a check. He makes a donation every month. “I am a part of this community. There is a need and I can help. It makes me feel good,” he explains.
In addition to monetary donations or volunteering, there are myriad ways people in the community can help. The Center is always in need of men’s clothing, baby items and diapers, clothing for teens and shoes. During this time of year, coats and jackets are also needed.
Individuals can go to goodsearch.com and use the page as their search engine designating the Millington Crisis Center as their selected charity and each time goodsearch.com is utilized for an Internet search, a penny is donated to the Center.
The Center has also partnered with teracycle.com to raise funds. Recyclable items that can be dropped off at the center include empty drink pouches and straws, individual candy wrappers and outer bags, individual and family size chip bags, and more. Email: millingtoncrisiscenter@gmail.com for a complete list of items.
Persons can also shop at the organization’s booth at Open Marketplace or participate in its annual fundraising auction hosted in April by the Knights of Columbus at St. William’s Catholic Church.
The Center’s mission statement includes this verse from the Bible – “When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord, and He pays wonderful interest.” Proverbs 19:17.
“God provides so much,” Wilber said.
For more information, to volunteer or offer assistance contact the Millington Crisis Center at 872-4357, email at millingtoncrisiscenter@gmail.com or visit the Center’s page on Facebook.

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