First Baptist ProgramSally Seifert, Children’s librarian at Charlotte Community Library, kept her eyes open for items that sparked her creativity. At the same time, Kalli Dempsey of Housing Services Mid Michigan, loaded up on office supplies. Both were doing some much needed “shopping” for their organizations by taking advantage of a program First Baptist Church has offered for more than 15 years.
Since 1999, First Baptist Church has partnered with the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR), which receives donated merchandise from manufactures all around the country. NAEIR in turn, gives away the merchandise free to non-profit organizations that serve minors, the needy or the ill.
By investing close to $2,000 a year for membership fees, travel expenses and ordering fees, First Baptist Church is able to provide its congregation and local non-profits with close to $140,000 in merchandise a year, said Barbara Vandermolen, NAEIR organizer for First Baptist Church. The program has provided nearly $2.2 million in merchandise to local non-profit organizations in the program’s history.
“The church loves to share this abundance that Jesus has provided us through NAEIR with other organizations so they, too, can serve the people of God,” Vandermolen said.
Vandermolen said church staff takes what can be used in its ministry, while church members take items that they can use in the various ministries in which they are involved. The rest is distributed to local non-profits twice a year.
Seifert and Dempsey were joined by more than 30 different area non-profit organizations Thursday, June 11 at First Baptist Church, which laid out close to $70,000 worth of merchandise during one of its distribution events.
“The Library has been using NAEIR for years,” Seifert said. “It has saved us thousands of dollars.”
For programs working with tight budgets or under grant restrictions, NAEIR helps take care of administrative expenses, like office supplies, so that general fund money can be put towards helping people in need.
“It’s a wonderful program,” Dempsey said. “We use NAEIR every time its here in Charlotte. We find a lot of office supplies and paper products that would normally come out of our general fund.”
Items included in the most recent distribution included, bubble wrap, pencils and pens, sunglasses, mailing labels, pencils (116,000), ribbon, knife sharpening stones, several kinds of Post-it notes, football gloves, Reebok shirts, scrapbooks, blank business cards, mailing labels, paper cutters, stickers, pet magnets, orange shoelaces, purses and wallets, bandages, hand sanitizer, food heat lamps, laminating kits, elastic, interactive books, medical dictionaries, shoes, screwdrivers, sandpaper, floor mats, watches, computer keyboards, and greeting cards.
“It just really helps us immensely because we don’t have a large budget,” Seifert said. “We really do tailor the crafts for our story hour kids around what we receive there. It also helps provide prizes for our summer reading program.”
VanderMolen said the First Baptist Church orders from NAEIR four times a year, typically getting $30,000 worth of merchandise each order. Orders are filled using a computerized lottery system that determines which participating program gets requested items.
“We could not do NAEIR without the involvement of the non-profits,” Vandermolen said. “There is simply too much stuff for one church to handle. Some items come in large quantities and just have to be shared.”
Vandermolen makes the 750-mile round trip to the Galesburg, Ill., NAEIR headquarters, twice a year with the help of Greg Haliwell, a church member and his large trailer. Haliwell loads up the trailer while Vandermolen completes the church’s shopping list.
All leftover items at the end of the distribution event end up at Eaton Clothing and Furniture Center.
“ECFC comes in and cleans out all the left over merchandise,” Vandermolen said. “They, in turn, are able to give it away to their low income clients. A perfect solution for everyone.”