CHAMPAIGN — Kids need a place to keep their clothes and school books, and the Christian service organization Empty Tomb hopes to provide hundreds of needy children with something they don't have — cupboards of their own.
The organization has planned a work day from 8 a.m. to noon March 3 to build 500 cupboards designed to hold children's clothing and school books, and is seeking 1,500 volunteers through local churches to do the assembly work.
The work day will double as a fundraiser for Empty Tomb, by having volunteers get pledges for their labor, according to Sylvia Ronsvalle, Empty Tomb's executive vice-president.
Ronsvalle said requests for chests of drawers for kids are among the most frequent requests for donated furniture Empty Tomb receives.
In some homes, she said, children don't have any place to put folded clothes, and there are several family members sharing a closet.
Building a cupboard that can hold both clothes and school work will give a child, especially an older child, some control over his or her environment, "especially if there are younger children in the household," Ronsvalle said.
The event is also a fundraiser, because Empty Tomb is 98 percent funded by donations, and when donations run low at some times of the year, Empty Tomb struggles to meet its staff payroll, Ronsvalle said.
"Last year, our staff paychecks were three paychecks behind," she said.
Cut-off for volunteers to register for the cupboard-making event and fundraiser is Feb. 20, because Empty Tomb needs some time to order the supplies and get the cupboards ready for assembly, she said.
Not handy with tools? No worries.
"Anybody can do it," Ronsvalle said.
Volunteers can be middle school-age and up, and can sign-up singly, in families, or as part of their church groups. They will be assigned to teams, with each team assembling two cupboards, she said.
"You don't have to bring tools. You don't have to bring expertise," Ronsvalle said.
Don't want to do cupboard assembly? Other jobs will be available to volunteers at this event — for example, hospitality, she said.
Dick Barnes, the liaison for the work day at First Christian Church in Champaign, said a few dozen members of that congregation have signed up to participate so far.
Also a home maintenance volunteer through his church for Empty Tomb, Barnes said the organization does a great job matching church people to serve and needs in the community.
The cupboards will help children with no place to put things in their rooms, and the fundraiser will help Empty Tomb, he said. "They need a cushion fund, so they can pay their bills on time," he said.
To get involved, contact your church, Ronsvalle said, or call Empty Tomb at 356-2262. Or see the website at http://www.emptytomb.org.