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First Congregational Church Spreads Warmth

By Alex Cash

Staff Writer

“How can we help those in the community, who are cold, find warmth?”

With a simple question asked, Reverend Kerry Taylor-Snyder of First Congregational Church UCC Jackson began what he calls the “Warming Board” outside his church in downtown Jackson. Taylor-Snyder said the idea was inspired by a project in Boston in which people wrapped scarves around tree trunks to aid those who are homeless or out in the cold. Loving the idea, he wanted to apply it to his own community.

To change the project to better suit Jackson, Taylor-Snyder decided to use the church’s historic sign facing North Jackson Street to make items available. Plastic bags have helped to keep the items dry, as they are kept outside, and simple clothes pins hold them to the board.

At first only hats, gloves, and scarves were being given. Then someone in his congregation decided to add socks to keep peoples’ feet warm. Soon, the idea expanded to coats. The idea was announced to the church’s board of trustees and to the congregation at large. At this time, Taylor-Snyder says items began pouring in.

As the story of the Warming Board was shared on social media, people with no prior affiliation with the church began knitting items for the board. Additionally, things that were not put there by the church show up, including money.

“It is amazing to me that the community, in this small act of kindness, has joined in to help us help others,” said Taylor-Snyder.

The items have been available outside on a 24-hour basis. Taylor-Snyder said it is important for him not to make people feel ashamed in having to ask for items when they are in need. With this system, they are free to take the things they need at any time.

“My hope is that through all our acts of kindness that our community might be a kinder and gentler place to live for all persons.”

Alexandra Cash is a Jackson native with a passion for world travel, culture, lifetime learning, and adventure. Visit her website to read stories of her adventures at alexandracash.com or view her videos on YouTube at Alexandra Cash – Cash’s Corner.

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