Roanoke church turns focus international with food, clothing donations

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – What started as an idea to bridge international gaps through giving has evolved into a lifeline for several families here in the Roanoke Valley.

New Grace Baptist Church offered out piles of clothes, food, and other essentials this weekend. The event was initially designed to help international and refugee families transitioning to American life but, thanks to overwhelming support from people even outside the church, was opened to anyone in need.

“Just like a smile is universal, giving is universal,” said New Grace Baptist Church’s Sarah Dennis, who spearheaded the effort. “I want God’s love to be that wall-breaker, that barrier-breaker.”

She said that, upon seeing refugee families struggle to survive in other parts of the country, she knew she needed to help.

“When they would come in the nurseries, their kids would come in the winter and not have shoes on, not have socks on, and the boys would be in girls’ clothing because they had nothing. And that just kind of burdened my heart to do something about it,” she said.

Based on many donors’ generosity, the event’s doors were opened to any family in need.

“Me and my family need clothes and my mom goes to this church to get her food and goes to church here, so she brought me along,” said Raelynne Walters.

She adds that the day’s impact is hard to describe.

“This church has helped my mom a lot. So what happened with these clothes is a miracle. It’s just- it just overwhelms me, it really does,” she said.

Although she’s not herself a refugee, Raelynne says she spent time in the foster system growing up, so seeing the community’s heart on full display – especially around the holidays – gives her hope.

“I really didn’t have nobody, so me being out here and having people actually care and with parents around, it’s amazing,” she said.

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