An answered prayer | Lil’ Lambs Closet at Church of the Lakes United Methodist Church

Christian-based children’s consignment sale, Lil’ Lambs Closet at Church of the Lakes United Methodist Church, donates thousands to local charities each year.

Christian-based children’s consignment sale donates thousands to local charities each year

What started as a bargain between Misty Arnold and God has blossomed into bargains for everyone. Arnold, a nurse practitioner, is the founder of the local Lil’ Lambs Closet at Church of the Lakes United Methodist Church in Jackson Township.

Lil’ Lambs Closet is a semiannual children’s consignment sale that began locally in August 2003. It offers local parents a way to sell gently used children’s items such as clothing (infant to children’s size 20), toys, games, books, baby equipment, nursery furniture and maternity clothing, while giving families the opportunity to buy quality items at reasonable prices.

In return, Lil’ Lambs assists children and families in this area by donating more than $30,000 to local charity organizations each year.

For Arnold, all this is a way of thanking God for answering her prayers. Before she started Lil’ Lambs, Arnold was a busy professional married to her husband, Doug, and hoping to start a family.

The couple experienced fertility problems and sought help through a specialist and in vitro
fertilization.

“Like most people,” Arnold said, “I prayed in time of need.”

She recalls praying each morning as she drove to work. Then she turned to bargaining.

She would say, “Please let me have a baby. I will be active in the church. I will get involved. I will do things for you.” The couple did not attend church regularly. He was Catholic, she a Protestant, and the two had chosen Church of the Lakes as their place to worship together.

When they became pregnant with triplets, Arnold said, her bargaining continued. She offered, “God, if you let me carry these babies, I’ll do things for you. My children will do things for you. …”

And so, at 32 weeks, her two daughters and a son were born healthy.

“I was truly blessed,” Arnold said.

As life moved along at a rapid pace for the now-working mother of triplets, Arnold said, she looked for support and normalcy through the Canton Mothers of Multiples Club, where she made friends and became involved in its annual consignment sale.

The sale, she explained, was open only for club members to sell items.

“I started thinking about how we could make it better,” she said. “I wanted to open it up for the community.”

The club, she found, was not ready for the big change. She began to research Lil’ Lambs Closet, an organization she knew of in Hurricane, W.Va., near where she was raised. She discovered it was a Christian-based consignment sale with several other branches around the country.

I felt it was God speaking to me,” said Arnold, a Jackson Township resident. “I was excited — on adrenaline.”

Her next step was to take her idea of starting this ministry in Stark County to her pastor at Church of the Lakes.

She said she was emotional and passionate, but as she started her presentation, the Rev. Bryan George said to her, “You don’t have to say another word.”

As it turned out, he had heard of Lil’ Lambs Closet. In fact, he had shopped at one in Kentucky and had received a postcard from there a month earlier.

“He had told his wife they would do this if they could find someone to head it up,” Arnold said.

And in walked Misty Arnold. The story still gives her chills.

“I truly feel this was sent to us from God through me,” she said.

Now, seven years later, the sale has grown from 65 sellers to the point that she must turn away sellers after she registers 250. Consignors receive 70 percent of their sales, with the remaining 30 percent given to local organizations and charities that assist children and families in need.

A board of seven women, in addition to 22 chairmen and hundreds of volunteers, makes it all work. They have seen firsthand the effect of the sale and charity efforts. Jennifer Milligan said shopping at Lil’ Lambs Closet led her to become a leader with the sale. Over the years, she said, she has witnessed amazing acts of kindness and generosity.

The teacher and mother of two said Lil’ Lambs is so much more than “just a sale” and that the community benefits in ways too numerous to count.

We have been able to send children who are terminally ill to a summer camp. We have bought mattresses for children who needed beds. We have bought winter coats for schoolchildren who are going to school in T-shirts. We have helped families in emergency crisis,” she said. “These are just a few.”

Lil’ Lambs has added an annual toy sale to its two other sales each year. The first one, held last October, was a huge success.

The organization has added computers, crowd control stations for checking out and a new rack system, and it now takes credit cards.

But buyers and sellers beware — this is not a garage sale. Items being sold must be in excellent condition and sell for about one-third of retail prices.

LIL’ LAMBS CLOSET SPRING/SUMMER SALE

WHEN: Friday, March 12, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, March 13, 8 a.m.- noon.
WHERE: Church of the Lakes United Methodist Church, 5944 Fulton Dr. NW, Jackson Township
MORE INFO: www.cotl-lillambscloset.com