Harpersville residents reach out to clothe families

Published 3:06 pm Thursday, November 19, 2009

When Harpersville residents Della Pender and her father, Howard Roberson, first bought the building that would later become God’s Outreach Center, it wasn’t yet fit for a charity.

“When we bought this house, it just smelled like old dogs,” Pender said.

That was in March 2005. By December 2005, Pender and Roberson had put a lot of hard work into the building and were ready to open.

Since then, they’ve helped countless local residents make it through hard times with clothing and food.

“Our goal is to provide children with good clothes for school for free,” Pender said. “We’re little, and I want to stay little, because I can touch the person.”

Pender said she felt called to help others after losing a son in December 2004. The grand opening for God’s Outreach Center fell on her son’s birthday, Dec. 17, 2005.

“It’s been the greatest healing,” she said. “It was ironic it fell that way. That was a God thing. We’ve just continued putting our energy in this place.”

Pender has received help from her church, Double Oak Community Church in Mt Laurel, as well as from the community of Mt Laurel, where she works. For this Christmas, God’s Outreach Center and Double Oak Community Church are partnering to help 20 local families have a Christmas.

“The people of Mt Laurel just fill my car up,” she said. “That’s a standard thing now. That’s just how it is.”

Roberson, at 81, has taken the time to make God’s Outreach fill its potential by maximizing the space with innovative shelving and building a pantry.

“My church gave me emergency food, and he just said, ‘Well, you’ve got to have a pantry,'” Pender said. “He taught me to give back to the community.”

Roberson said his daughter is his inspiration.

“Well, I just, I think it’s a good thing. My daughter’s into it heart and soul, so it inspires me,” he said. “I just like to do good things for people. It means everything in the world. People can look and see what I’ve done.”

Pender said her father served as an example of how she should live her life.

“He’s a man of few words, but I saw by his actions how he was with his family, with the community,” she said.

She said she achieves everything only through God’s help.

“I just feel like sometimes, through tragedy, we can rise with God’s help. We have two choices, and one is to just get up and go on,” she said. “I pray with others and talk with them about the Lord. I talk about his goodness and encourage them to raise their children to understand that.”

God’s Outreach Center is located at 4418 U.S. 280. The charity house is open from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays for those in need of food and clothing.