Epworth United Methodist Church in Des Moines has a goal this school year to provide clothing and grooming products for 10% of the students at nearby Harding Middle School. A $3,000 Matthew 25 grant from the Central District helps to fund this ministry, which is provided by the United Methodist churches of Iowa through their apportionment gifts.
One hundred percent of the students at Harding receive free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches. For many these are the only meals they receive during the week. In addition, some students come from dysfunctional households and deal with neglect or abuse from the adults in their lives.
Church members have been working with school staff since 2011 to make the Kidz Haven ministry possible. The focus has changed over the years so that now the church offers direct support to students in need. They receive school uniforms that help them fit in and feel equal, since they can dress like their peers. “Most importantly, (these uniforms) avoid gang-related problems,” according to Kidz Haven president, Jan Meek.
The church also gives out toiletries and an official Harding Middle School sweatshirt to students teachers have identified. A colorful label on each hygiene kit indicates that the gifts are coming from the Epworth United Methodist Church.