It all started Dec. 6, when high school students and leaders from Salem Alliance Church gathered, not for fun and games, but for a new and exciting ministry. They were gathered at the IKE Box, a music venue in downtown Salem, to meet homeless high school kids and invite them to go shopping for new school clothes.
But how would they pay for the new clothes? With the proceeds of the sale of hundreds of T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “I give a shirt.”
There are about 900 homeless teenagers in the Salem-Keizer area, say Corban students Lindsay Emerson and Kelli Hibbett. Many of them only have one outfit for school. For one Salem Alliance high-schooler, Whitney Farrin, homeless kids’ need became an avenue for ministry.
Farrin’s idea was simple. Make up a bunch of T-shirts, sell them for $10 and donate all the proceeds toward shopping trips with homeless kids. Her friends at West Salem High School started buying the shirts and wearing them to school. So did their parents. And college kids. And business owners. So far, the “I give a shirt campaign” has sold more than 1,000 shirts.
“It’s just been really crazy to see how the community is getting really excited about it,” Hibbett said.
Emerson and Hibbett, both youth workers at Salem Alliance, attended that first gathering at the IKE Box. Several days later, they went shopping with the homeless kids, watching with great joy as business owners at Target and Old Navy donated time and money to help. Now business owners at Lancaster Mall are planning a shirt-sale drive of their own.
“It’s just so cool to see a church doing what churches are supposed to be doing,” the pair recalled one woman saying.
“The next “I give a shirt” event will be on April 29 following a shoe drive across the Salem area.
The next event will be on Apr. 29th following a shoe drive across the Salem area.