‘Give them what they need’

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Janice Laderoute and Ken Powell of Loads of Love show off one of the many mobility devices that are sold at the charity’s store on Colborne Street.
Janice Laderoute and Ken Powell of Loads of Love show off one of the many mobility devices that are sold at the charity’s store on Colborne Street.

For two decades, Chatham’s Loads of Love group has been living up to its goal of “Sharing God’s love at home and around the world.”

The humanitarian aid and mission society began as an outreach of Evangel Community Church when Craig Pitts was pastor and has grown to serve missions in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia.

At home, Loads of Love has been helping those in need through its store and referral program.

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

Public relations director Ken Powell said the success of the group is the result of the dedication of scores of volunteers whose faith brings them to help others.

“We don’t proselytize, but we are very much faith-driven,” he said. “Helping others in Jesus’ name is what we do.”

Janice Laderoute, who’s been volunteering at the store since her youngest child went off to school four years ago, said it’s not her job to give people stuff, but instead to “give them what they need.”

Sometimes the material goods we provide are secondary to just being there and listening to someone’s stories,” she said. “We’re more than a thrift store. This is a very nurturing place.”

Sue Cornelius handles the referral portion of the charity’s work, dealing with requests from more than 15 community partners (social agencies and churches) who refer clients for help.

“We’ve had about five referrals already today,” she said during a late morning interview.

Most of the referrals involve asking Loads of Love to help someone set up an apartment with basic furniture and household needs.

“We have clients who find themselves in a position where they are trying to start over with almost nothing,” she said. “The reasons are as varied as the people themselves.”

Sue’s husband John said the couple has been involved with the group for a decade.

“I was in Zambia and I saw how they had so little and we have so much in Canada,” he said. “ I wanted to help in a way that I knew would mean something, so here I am.”

John said it takes about 15 volunteers per day to operate Loads of Love, from intake of donations, referrals, store operation and sorting goods for sale or transport abroad.

He said the group sends about six containers per year overseas and has found that sending goods is more effective than sending money.

“In many places, there isn’t any way to get shoes, clothing and other items to those who need them other than by container. We can make donations stretch farther by not having to buy goods.”

Powell said all items used locally or sent abroad are cleaned through a heat process.

He added that Loads of Love missionaries onsite in foreign countries ensure the goods get to those who need them.

Having been in Africa, John said, “We promote our faith through deeds, rather than words.”

Sue said putting her faith into action is very gratifying when those who have been helped become part of the process in other ways.

“People who we have helped have turned around and donated to us later because they know what it means to have been helped, “she said.

Laderoute said she has received as much as she’s given through volunteering. “We’re like a family here, “ she said. “We support each other.”

She said the group had a student volunteer years ago who wasn’t planning on going to her high school graduation until other volunteers helped her with her dress and turned out for the ceremony.

I’ve made some great friends and I get to help people,” she said. “What more could you ask for?”

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