RuraLove is celebrating 25 years of helping local families in crisis in Louisa County and surrounding areas.
The ministry was started by Goshen Baptist Association and later joined by other churches in cooperation with local social service agencies, homeless or safe shelters, and community service boards. RuraLove helps meet the physical needs of the elderly, people with low incomes, and families in crisis (such as those out of work due to a medical crisis).
Goshen Baptist, founded in 1792, is the ministry center of 32 coordinating Southern Baptist churches in parts of Orange, Spotsylvania, Goochland, Fluvanna, and Louisa counties.
Examples of how RuraLove helps low-income people include replacing an elderly person’s broken appliance; helping fire victims get the furniture and clothing they need to start over; loaning medical equipment to people; or helping someone with an electric bill, fuel oil, mortgage or rent.
The process works like this: Local churches and agencies specify items needed to minister to a family, then RuraLove volunteers collect the items and members of a church or volunteers deliver them to the family.
Volunteers do not want to simply meet physical needs, although that would be a worthy ministry. There is no greater satisfaction for volunteers than to share love with customers or hear success stories of families finding Christ through church outreach.
The RuraLove Thrift Store is open to the public every Wednesday (unless school is closed due to bad weather) from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and is manned by dozens of volunteers under the supervision of Coordinator Keith Wollenberg. The store is also open the first Saturday of the month from April through November during the same hours.
Donations range from building supplies, appliances, furniture and housewares to clothing. All funds raised from donations go to help local families in crisis. Operation expenses are paid by member churches. Necessities of life are kept in the warehouse and go out by application to families in need. Overstock and non-necessities of life are sold at reasonable prices to shoppers, then funds are distributed as needs arise.
RuraLove volunteers are serving Christ in a unique way, a way that touches people’s lives forever. You don’t ever forget what it is like to be in need, especially when the needs are met in a miraculous way. And for many people, it is a miracle to get the things they need. There is no way they could do it on their own; they have exhausted every resource they could think of, and their hope has dwindled.
More than 9,000 individuals and families have been helped through RuraLove since 1995.
Donations of still useful, clean, working household items keep the ministry alive. People are asked not to donate anything torn, moldy, dirty, or broken, as it is embarrassing and costly for RuraLove to replace non-working essentials. It is also time-consuming and expensive for volunteers to take items to the dump.
RuraLove does not accept old-style TVs, large entertainment centers, large office desks and extremely heavy items.
The RuraLove warehouse and thrift store are located at 587 Mica Road in Mineral. Donations are accepted on Mondays from 7 to 10 a.m. and on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon, or by appointment. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment to bring building supplies, furniture, or large appliances so they can be stored properly. Contact the Goshen Ministry Center at 540-894-8440 to schedule an appointment or for more information.
Tammy Wood is the Goshen Baptist Association’s editor.