Bridging the Poverty Gap through Philanthropy
Ayodeji Ake writes that through ‘It’s New To Me’ initiative, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, is bent on providing for the indigents, thus bridging the gap between the rich and poor through philanthropy
A decade ago, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), City of God Parish, saw the need to provide for the indigents by opening a store where items can be bought for as low as N100, to bridge the wide gap between the rich and poor. This novel idea gave birth to the ‘It’s New To Me’ initiative.
Years after inception and impactful journey, as a welcome initiative, His Love Foundation, a nonprofit organisation and a Christ Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of RCCG waded-in to spread the tentacles of ‘It’s New To Me’ to rural communities in Lagos state.
‘It’s New To Me’ is an open store where new and nicely used clothes and households items donated by members of the church are sold at a fraction of its original price. Its mission is to raise funds from proceed of the store to support charity works.
The Overseer, It’s New To Me, Mrs. Olubukola Aneike said the vision of the initiative is to demonstrate the unending love of Christ to everyone regardless of their religion.
She reminisced: ” It started 10 years ago. Though I was here then but I came into the picture five years ago when the shop was relaunched. It’s a charity shop and an initiative of RCCG City of David. The vision is to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ by changing lives. We generate sales both through the retailing and fund raised from the church. For five years, it’s been impactful, we cloth people and give them hope. We have been able to wipe tears. There was an instance of a widow who couldn’t afford good things when her husband died. She was happy to come here to buy at a cheap price to wear what she desires.
“I can’t say much about establishment of the initiative because I wasn’t here when they started. But I know the bottom line is that we want to demonstrate the love of Jesus. The name is like what is new to you may be stale to someone else. I will tell you there are things here that are new so it’s not about used items alone”.
After five years of initiation of ‘It’s New to Me’, which started with a single branch on Lagos Island, it was relaunched and additional branches was opened on the island to spread it tentacles. The project isn’t just an assignment for the church alone but for the entire members of RCCG as an example laid to ensure the members are impactful too.
“We re-launched five years ago. But we are having another launch coming up because we want to extend beyond Victoria Island. We have three operating and we plan to open more. Trust me here we have items of N100, it depends on what you can afford. We don’t sell anyhow things. By the grace of God the caliber of people coming here are people God has blessed. We have items people will love here.
“For the church it’s like making sure everyone is involved in the business of impacting life. If I bring things here, I have automatically touched life” she said.
‘It’s New to Me’ had over the years gotten resources from the church for support and reinvestment from money made. All items are received except human. “We have had cars donations in the past, furniture was donated and we sold at subsidised rate. We don’t discriminate whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, you can come in” Aneike said.
On projections for the initiative in coming years, Aneike said she “hopes to have added up to the church to have like 10 outlets plus the ones we have now. Presently we have people coming in and in the next five years that we would have impacted like two million persons that will have known about this shop and benefitted in one way or the other.
“We want to thank God for the initiative and to believe God we have been able to achieve the goal that we have set. We really will love everybody to hear about this. Initially City of David started this and now spread to His Love Foundation, which constitute all Redeem churches, which is going to blow out soon.
“We have established relationships with those who sells out to the church as partners and once in a while we announce it to the congregation on the pulpit. We do fliers and we do all sort of programs”.
The Big Idea
It’s New to Me is synonymous to a charity work but in double fold. Helping those in need and also channeling funds generated from sales into charity activities to the orphanage and other institutions seeking attentions.
“We don’t want to present our items like we are presenting to beggars. That’s why we have good looking stores to treat people well.
“We plan to go to the grassroots. We have been scouting for a shop in Ajegunle. We got one in Ebute Metta. We got a very good shop there and its coming up soon. We have at Odogunyan, Ikorodu. We are planning about 10 and we are not concentrating on high crowded areas.
“We are trying to use one stone to kill two birds. We cloth at little to nothing and we also make you part of a charity work because funds generated are channelled to charity work. We do a lot charity work as a church. We give some free and generate funds from some” she also said.
To maintain hygiene by ensuring items given are well presentable especially wears, a monitored dry-cleaning section was created.
“We have a place where we call out drop off room where we do the ironing and dry cleaning to make sure that what we put out for sake here is good. We also advise our donors to always make whatever they are bringing is well presentable” she said.
Aneike noted challenges faced are high demand and low donations.
She said: “What can pose as challenge is that we do not have enough people bring in donation but thank God people are still chucking the little they have.
“Another thing is that sometimes people demand what is not available because we don’t buy but we take donations.”
“We have success stories here; widows, brides that have come in here to shop for their wedding. We have wedding gowns for as low as 2,500 naira. This time is our peak because mothers will be coming around now that their by children will be resuming school”