Threads began as five people discussing how to have a free clothing giveaway at Crossroads United Methodist Church in January of 2009. As they are looking at the past 10 years and how much the mission has grown, they want to thank every single person and organization that has helped them every step of the way.

As Threads president and co-founder Cindy Shuford states, “There was no doubt it was a calling from God to start this. But, when God calls you to mission, He may not tell you everything you are getting in to. What we thought was a one or two-time event was actually to fulfill a need greater than we ever imagined. One of my biggest blessings is my mission partner and vice-president, Nancy Green. We couldn’t do this without her dedication. Each of our staff members have given us so many hours of work to keep us so organized and ready for anything.”

After 10 years, they look back on the humble beginning in a small Sunday School classroom, then moving upstairs at the church to a large utility room until they found their first off-sight home in December of 2010. By March of 2013, they closed on the current site and began renovating the old West Meat Locker on Zinser Place. As the renovation was coming to a close, the tornado hit the city. Threads was still in a temporary location called The Rock on Peoria Street, and the town turned into a frenzy of supplies, trucks, tractors, emergency crews and news reporters. Threads was preparing to have a toy giveaway at the current location. They were also a part of the group working with the Toys for Tots organization and the Salvation Army at Crossroads UMC to host a major Christmas toy event for the victims of the tornado. Within days, they were shifting their tornado relief work from one location to their new building.

“We had three semi-trailers full of supplies to work from. A team was at our new place building shelving units in the back for tornado relief supplies, including food and frozen meats. I think we were only closed one day during the transition stage. This sure wasn’t what anyone expected to be doing at Christmas in 2013. I began to feel that we had been mentally preparing for this since we began the mission,” Shuford stated.

After things calmed down for Threads in mid-2014, they were getting into the regular routine of collecting school supplies for two counties and doing their best to always have enough clothing for the kids. They were having four public giveaway days each month; clients could attend two. The building became busy and very full of activity. Finally, it was a home for them.

This past December was an exceptionally busy Christmas season. The private invitation Christmas Toy event gave out toys to parents of nearly 200 children, and then the wait-list parents were called and scheduled. As the days went on, Cindy and her husband served parents every 30 minutes by appointment. Then had three emergency deliveries to homes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“The stories were heartbreaking the last four days,” said Shuford. “These were families that had nothing to give at all. The total of children that received gifts under the trees for 2018 was 420. That was a record breaker.”

Threads, Hope & Love NFP thanks all of the donors that make what they do possible. From the regular financial and merchandise donations that make the organization able to help anyone at any time, to the big donors at Christmas including BTD Welding, Big R, Toys for Tots, Farm and Fleet, Menards, Uftring Ambassadors, Russell’s Fitness, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Usborne Books, to each and every donation of toys, financial donations and every single gift card. All donors blessed the families of 420 children, and Threads emphasizes how much everyone’s support means to them. Because of the immense support, Threads is able to shop for and accept Christmas needs all year round.

As year 11 begins, plans have begun in looking for fundraising opportunities, preparing for school supplies needed in July and, of course, Christmas 2019.

“We are having a need that we can’t seem to get on top of,” noted Shuford. “The need for kids’ pants and jeans is constant; we can’t keep them on the shelves. We focus a lot on bullying issues, and if we can help a little by making sure kids have clothing that fits well, we are giving kids one less thing to be bullied about. Our clients are limited on what they can take. Our current database is 3,000 families in central Illinois. We are serving around 600 people and their families each month. We have dozens of new families each month. If you are a woman with weekdays free and would like to join the Threads family, let us know. Come in and fill out an application.”

Threads, Hope and Love can be contacted by calling Cindy at 309-303-0205, on Facebook or by email at threadshopeandlove@gmail.com.

The organization’s website is currently not working. If you are an IT person that would donate some time, let contact Threads to help. Donations are accepted Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Financial donations may be dropped off at 121 Zinser Place or mailed to PO Box 52, Washington, IL 61571.