Ministry looking to impact poverty stricken community

By Crystal Britt

CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) - A group of people in Charleston, Missouri is working to reach what it calls the under served and unloved.

Shining Light Outreach is in its seventh year in Charleston.

The volunteers who work with the ministry say they see day in and day out the real needs of the community.

They say hundreds of children wander the streets on the West side of town, many without shoes or any place to turn.

"There's a lot of unfit parents around here," said a local teen.

"We have children raising children," said Reverend Dean Wallace. "With a lot of them they have to because the mother has to work, and they can't afford childcare or may be they just don't work."

Volunteers say some are starving not only for their next meal, but for attention.

"We serve 50-75 hungry kids a meal every Sunday. Many haven't eaten since Friday," said Wallace.

While some of them do have loving parents who can provide the basic needs of life, others don't.

Some of those turn to Dean Wallace and his ministry, Shining Light.

"It's good for the children," said Olivia Ewing. "They're out of school now and it gives them more things to do."

The ministry is led by Wallace and an enormous group of volunteers. Some travel great distances to help.

"There's a lot of needs of course in this area," said Steve Loeffler.

Loeffler is in Charleston with the youth group from Second Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Missouri. They are spending the week ministering to the children.

One child said, "It brings people together and we have a lot of fun."

Another child said, "I'm glad they came to helps us because we really needed it."

The work isn't just on the streets, but at the outreach center.

It's a place where they worship, play, and serve meals. They're also constructing a food pantry and a clothing closet.

"It's a total God thing. A dream he gave me, a calling he placed," said Wallace.

For the volunteers who come, it's an experience they'll likely never forget.

"I could try and convince you, but until you come down here and see it and talk to the kids and see what they're enduring every single day then you don't really understand," said Loeffler.

They're hoping and praying their labor of love makes an lasting impact.

"These children need a place, someone to give them hope and show them possibilities," said Wallace.

The Shining Light Outreach Center is always looking for volunteers and donations.

They also hand out school supplies every year, provide meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas and more.

They're also hoping to open a free health clinic.

Contact the Shining Light Outreach Center at: PO Box 384, 721 W. Marshall Street Charleston, MO 63834

(573) 683-0363

You can also e-mail the director, Dean Wallace at rd.wallace@sbcglobal.net

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