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Cleanse My Soul: Cleaning supply pantry set to open in Wooster

Ryan Mathis, left, Amy Scott and Pat Merrill coordinate a cleaning supply pantry that makes much needed items available to anyone in need.

Ellen Pill

"I've been a single mother since 2001," Pat Merrill said. "When you go on the food card (state food assistance), it doesn't include cleaning supplies."
With firsthand knowledge of how difficult it can sometimes be to afford these essential items, Merrill decided to find a way to offer the needed supplies to people in need at no cost. Setting up shop at the Smithville Mennonite Church, 25-30 people would show up each time she opened.
"It just grew by word of mouth," Merrill said.
Cleanse My Soul ran from March 2012 to September 2016. Supplies were donated by the church community.
The single mom offered more than just toilet paper and hand soap to those in need. "I had a display board with information about homemade [cleaning supplies]," Merrill said.
On the board she listed ways to use baking soda and vinegar as inexpensive cleaners for a variety of everyday household needs. In addition she offered a ministry for anyone in need.
"We would take prayer concerns," Merrill said.
There was someone on hand to speak with people, or people had the option to write down their concerns and Merrill and fellow congregants would offer prayers.
Merrill also serves up food to those in need via Meals Together, a free weekly supper served at Wooster United Methodist Church.
While working the meal, Merrill met Ryan Mathis, who had come to volunteer along with other members of his Central Christian Church congregation.
"Pat was looking for someone to hand [Cleanse My Soul] off to," Mathis said. "I'm the point person at Central Christian Church for mission of the month."
Every month the church chooses a cause, mission or organization to support. Mathis said, "It's always fun to see what the next one is going to be."
Cleanse My Soul seemed like the perfect fit for the church's giving congregation, and the downtown location made sense as well. "It took a few months to get it off the ground, but here we are," Mathis said.
As a busy father of small children Mathis looked for someone to co-coordinate the project, and Amy Scott stepped in.
"My youngest is graduating and moving on, so I needed a little something more to do even though I have a full plate, but this seemed to touch my soul," Scott said.
Thus far all donations of cleaning supplies have come from the church, but Scott and Mathis hope to involve the wider community. The team is requesting individual as well as corporate donations, and they are interested in discounts on bulk items through local retailers.
They also ask others to help spread the word to those in need of assistance. Merrill had a list of addresses gathered from her Smithville project, and postcards have been sent to all of those individuals.
Wooster's Cleanse My Soul plans to hold a distribution every four months or three times per year. Central Christian Church will act as the distribution center.
Mathis and Scott plan to continue Merrill's tradition of offering on-site connection and prayer as well as the opportunity to privately share written prayer concerns. Merrill also included information regarding community services and meals, and the new ministry will do the same.
"We are open to everyone," Scott said. "Nobody will be turned away."
Mathis said, "We want to take the gifts that God has given us and share those and help those in need."
Cleanse My Soul will be open to everyone every four months on the third Saturday of the month, beginning May 20 from 8-11 a.m. at Central Christian Church, 407 N. Market St., Wooster.
The next dates will be Sept. 16 and Jan. 20, 2018. No proof of need is required.
Individuals and businesses interested in donating cleaning supplies can call the church office at 330-262-4652. Items requested include most anything needed for the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. Call the church for a complete list.

Published: May 12, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170519991