Empty Tomb seeks volunteers for project to help children

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.

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anony95 wrote on February 03, 2012 at 10:02 am

You might want to clarify who can volunteer. A while back I wanted to make a regular volunteer commitment there and while they said the needed the help, they turned me down because I'm not part of a church. It's obviously their choice, but I wouldn't want people to turn up to volunteer and be turned away.

CU Friend wrote on February 03, 2012 at 11:02 am

I just called to volunteer and was turned down. The reason I was turned down was because I wasn't affliated with any Christian Church and I am non-religious. Btw, saying I am non-religious doesnt' mean I necessarily do not believe in Jesus (maybe I do or maybe I don't). Does this also mean that mean that religious Jews may not volunteer as well?

I told the woman that my heart was in the right place and that I was willing to give up my Saturday to help out on what sounded like such a important event to help children who need the community's help.

I am very disapointed and saddened that by this church's volunteer requirements. These kinds of churches a part of what make other other Christian churches look bad. Shame on them!

A Volunteer wrote on February 03, 2012 at 10:02 pm

As a volunteer at a religious organization, I understand the rule that the other commenters have mentioned.  Everything at empty tomb is given away "free in Jesus' name."  That is read and repeated many times a day at this organization.  It is posted throughout the building.  They pray before, during and after events and processes.  Following Christ and showing Him to the community is an integral part of their work, and their work would not exist without this focus on Him.

No one said that you are or are not religious or helpful or even wanted.  There are a number of requirements for volunteers, and it makes little sense to complain that a group won't let everyone join.  I hope this fact encourages you to help needy people in another way, not just complain that empty tomb won't let you help in their way.

anony95 wrote on February 05, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I brought it up as a heads-up to the News Gazette.  They ran a story calling for volunteers, without specifying the very specific requirements for volunteering. Either they didn't know, the press release didn't specify that awkward little detail or the NG doesn't know the difference between an audience for a newspaper and the audience for a church bulletin.  You're right - there are many other wonderful organizations, even Christian ones, that don't assume that "relationship with Jesus" is the same thing as "church attendance."

just a thought wrote on February 07, 2012 at 9:02 am

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"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."


 


"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."


 


To get involved, contact your church, Ronsvalle said, or call Empty Tomb at 356-2262. Or see the website at http://www.emptytomb.org.


 


I thought the article was very clear on the volunteers they are looking for (see underlined portions of the article above). Please do not slander or try to manipulate this article for own agenda. This is a faith-based Christian organization and they have the right to keep the volunteers to that. I don't see it as trying to push a "church bulletin" but get the word out to Christians who read the newspaper to get involved.


As the article stated, there are other ways you can be involved. Being a sponsor for someone volunteering would help with the fundraising portion of the event, or make a donation directly to empty tomb.