Raising a child is expensive, and for many families it is, quite simply, a financial challenge. However, it is not a challenge on which one can turn a back.
Some folks in Hudson Oaks are doing their part to help make the early years a little bit easier.
Loving Life, a mission of Divine Mercy Lutheran Church, is a place for families to be gifted some of the necessary items for infants and toddlers. It is free to all who ask.
The store, which is open the fourth Sunday of each month from 1:30-4 p.m., is the brainchild of pastor Kyle Madson and Brendi Nobis. Madson said they came up with the idea after seeing on Facebook that another Lutheran pastor, his wife and congregation performed a similar effort at their parish in Illinois.
"This project has been in the plans for Divine Mercy for some time. Brendi really took the plan and made it action," Madson said. "She spearheaded our donation efforts, space preparation, and has really invested herself in putting this service before those who can make use of it."
The store is located at 3310 Fort Worth Highway in the Town Centre, directly across from the R&K Cafe, soon to be the location of HEB. The format is simple, people who have gently used baby and maternity items can donate them. Then, those in need simply come by during the store hours or contact 682-262-1456 with their needs.
"For our neighbors who have plenty and desire to put that plenty to use, we can offer an immediate outlet for them to put their goods in the hands of others," Madson said. "For our neighbors who find themselves stretched thin on funds or goods (for mother or child) we have some free-of-charge items to make available to them."
Nobis said the entire church contributed to the creation of the store by "talking to people at garage sales and asking them for the leftovers to fill our shelves, talking to family and friends to donate as well.
"We have even reached out to other churches as well to help keep the shelves filled. People excited about giving to the store, to also help out others in need."
Not all items at Loving Life are used, and there is more than clothing. Items include blankets, baby furniture, car accessories, along with everyday necessities such as formula and baby food.
Madson makes it clear that Loving Life is open to everyone, not just those in the Lutheran Faith.
"Loving Life is most certainly open to all. It's organized and operated as a mercy ministry fully intending to benefit and serve the folks of Parker County," he said.
To qualify, all one has to do is ask. It is requested, that it be a genuine need, and those receiving the goods are on an honor system.
"It can be a vulnerable feeling to be in need," he said. "Too many qualifying questions make it even more difficult.
"We simply ask that the shoppers not sell the gifted items, and that when they're finished with them that they consider donating them back for someone else."
Loving Life is supported in large part by the good will of donors, with many funds coming from Divine Mercy members and sister congregations across the nation, Madson said. As the demand for goods and word gets out about the store, he said the hours may also expand.
"This is a for-starters schedule. Given increased demand we will certainly pursue increased hours," he said.
"I hope that someone finds this store as a blessing to them," said Nobis.
What: A store with free items for babies and expecting mothers.
Where: 3310 Fort Worth Highway, Town Centre, Hudson Oaks.
Hours: 1:30-4 p.m., fourth Sunday of each month (next opening Sunday, Oct. 23).
Items include: Gently used clothes (0-5T), used blankets, baby furniture, car accessories, new diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, maternity clothes, and more.
Drop off: During store hours or by appointment.