For many people, stocking up on dish soap and deodorant is just part of everyday life. But for families who attended the free Serve 4 Jesus clinic at Trinity Lutheran Church in Burr Ridge, it was much more.
Volunteer Dani Eggert of Burr Ridge said one young mother held her tight and had tears in her eyes as she thanked her for the items she received from the event’s “store.”
The store was stocked with all sorts of toiletries and essentials, but no money changed hands. Like the rest of the clinic, everything was free.
“We believe that God has called us to serve one another,” said the Rev. Bob Geaschel, pastor at Trinity Lutheran.
He said the clinic, now in its second year, began after he posed a question to his parish.
“I asked them, if our church closed today, would the surrounding community notice a difference?”
When the answer was no, the parish took action to change things, Geaschel said.
The clinic provides all sorts of care, from physical to spiritual, to anyone in need. While four doctors performed exams and screenings, professional hair stylists offered free haircuts and massage therapists worked out the kinks for many of the clinic’s 140 guests.
Nearly as many volunteers worked to make the day happen. Among them was Jerry Ptacek, a professional photographer from J.S. Photo LLC of Lemont. Ptacek offered free, framed family portraits to all who attended the clinic. When a family is struggling to provide food and necessities, a family picture is often an unattainable luxury. Ptacek said he enjoys making that little luxury happen for families in need.
“I do it so they will have a family portrait to cherish,” he said. “I’m happy to see the smiles on their faces.”
Fifty-five people saw the clinic’s dentist and many received free flu shots, provided by Walgreens.
Those who needed follow-up care were given information about available resources. Many people, said event organizer and volunteer Carrisa Korres, were surprised to learn how much is available to them.
Coat distribution was one of Linda Isbell’s duties during the clinic. New and gently used winter coats were given to 35 children and adults in need.
“It was so exciting,” she said, and even though the temperature outside was near 80 degrees, many chose to wear their new coats, Isbell said.
Isbell said many volunteers were touched by a little girl who broke into tears when her parents told her the line for haircuts was too long.
“That haircut meant so much to her,” Isbell said.
Luckily, another stylist came just in time to provide the little girl with the new hair style she was so excited about.
Another volunteer stood by to join people in prayer, and assure them the prayers would not stop when they left the church. Everyone who attended also received a hot meal, provided by volunteers from Trinity Lutheran.
It was a busy day for all involved, but Korres said she already is looking forward to next year’s clinic.
“I can’t wait,” she said.