OGDEN — A new distribution center for handing out supplies to the young and homeless each Saturday is the answer to a longtime dream of those organizing the effort.

Summit Chapel, 585 39th St. in Ogden, represents a small congregation but one with a big heart toward those who may be in destitute situations with nowhere to turn.

“Everyone in the church is just really moved,” said Dotti Wilkerson, who along with her husband, Ron, is volunteering to set up the center, which will open Saturday for weekly afternoon distribution.

“We’re not closer to the gospel at any time than when we are helping those who are less fortunate,” said Pastor Tim Lewis. 

The pastor said having an outreach at the church has been a goal for a long time but God seemed to open a door in just the last month to make it happen.

“We want to do more than put a coat on their back. ... We want to love on them. ... We want them to say ’If these people love me, there must be a God who loves me too.’ ”

A long-range goal is for the site to also become a shelter for homeless youth, but there are many regulations that need to be addressed before that can happen, Dotti Wilkerson said.

The center will distribute many of the items that have been and are yet to be collected for displaced teenagers and those even younger throughout the Top of Utah in the month of October.

So far, donations have astounded Wilkerson.

“Our hearts have just been full,” she said. “It’s just been amazing. People have just been coming by and bringing things.”

One member of the church built a large wooden box to collect donations that now is sitting outside the church and many people have come by to fill it with their gifts for those in need.

“Somebody had bought new coats and someone has left 40 hand-knitted hats,” Dotti Wilkerson said.

And donations have come from other places as well. The items also are being distributed through several other locations in different areas in the Top of Utah.

The Wilkersons and a number of other volunteers have been desperately advertising their efforts wherever they believe homeless youth may visit. They have left fliers about their services wherever formerly homeless youth have advised them to visit.

And they are hoping the efforts will pay off with the youth turning to them for the supplies they will need, especially now with cold weather approaching.

“If you build it, they will come,” is the motto the couple has used to keep them going in hopes that word of mouth will take their services into areas where the youth congregate that are out of the way of regular society.

Lewis is hoping for the same.

“I think once they know we are here, they will show up,” he said. “Most places that do any type of ministry, people that need it find it.”

Now appearing much like a retail store, the distribution center came about even though limited resources were available. 

Right after the congregation prayed for clothing racks for the center, a leader in their church walked into Gordmans in Riverdale and there were eight racks, just enough for their needs, all on sale for $5 apiece.

“Ron and I had been to 40 different stores asking for racks,” she said. “It was getting discouraging. Finding them was exciting.” 

A number of businesses have stepped forward with much help too.

They include Advanced Display, Chick-Fil-A, Home Depot, Salvation Army, Savers, Shopko, Smith & Edwards, Sports Authority, Target and Walmart.

But the group still is hoping for more donations and support. Of an immediate need are warm socks, sleeping bags, can openers and backpacks.

The Wilkersons have committed to be present to accept donations at Summit Chapel Wednesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. But donors may drop off items any time by putting them in the drop box.

The church also will hold a garage sale between 8 a.m. and noon Saturday to raise funds for the effort.

Dotti Wilkerson said the group wants to make sure they will have some funds on hand in case items are needed by the youth that have not been donated.

A group from the Internal Revenue Service has donated garage sale items they collected for a charity sale that was previously rained out. The church also will sell smaller sized coats that were donated to the cause that are too small to serve the homeless youth who will be visiting the distribution center.

Below are listed additional places where donations may be dropped off.

Ogden Valley location:

• Alpine Pizza in the Diamond Peak Plaza, 2429 N. Highway 158 in Eden.

Call 801-645-1900 for information. Donations taken every day from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Ogden locations:

• Standard-Examiner, 332 Standard Way in Ogden.

Call 801-625-4400 for information. Donations taken 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Ogden OUTreach, 705 23rd St. in Ogden.

Donations will be taken Wednesdays 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For information, call (801) 686-4528. There are other locations for OUTreach Centers in Logan, Tremonton, Brigham City and Clearfield. Call for locations and times of operation.

• Youth Futures Shelter Home, 2760 Adams Ave., has no set hours of operation at present. Call 801-528-1214 or e-mail kristen@yfut.org for an appointment.

Layton locations:

• Northern Realty, 1201 N. Hillfield Road, Suite 2071. Donations taken Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Inside the Layton Hills Mall, 1076 Layton Hills Mall, Layton, at the food court entrance. Donations taken Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Centerville location:

• Edward Jones Financial Advising, 44 E. 100 South, Suite No. 200 in Centerville.

For information, call 801-292-6444. Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Standard-Examiner Young & Homeless Initiative is an effort to find ways to get the community to come together and lift up youth who are at risk of becoming homeless or who become homeless.

The Standard-Examiner is donating $1 for efforts to fight youth homelessness for every donation made online as part of the Standard-Examiner Young & Homeless initiative, up to $10,000.

You may reach JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at JaNaeFrancisSE. Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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