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The Story Behind The Clothes On a Greensboro Fence

A picture posted on WFMY News 2's Facebook Page of a fence with clothes hanging from it, inspired us to find out the story of who was behind it all.

GREENSBORO, NC – If you’ve been on Spring Garden Street near Downtown Greensboro during the last two weeks of December, you might have seen a bunch of clothes hanging from a fence.

Next to the strategically hung sweaters, jackets and pairs of gloves stuck between fence holes, is a large white banner, with the words Project Warmth in bold, black letters. Under those first two words is a simple sentence. “Take one if you need one, leave one if you can.”

16 Cents Ministry is behind the clothes fence. Mike Murray, the Director of the organization decided to bring the idea local after seeing something similar across the county.

“We have a fence and we created a banner and all of a sudden it took off,” said Murray. “It amazes me because I drive by here frequently and there will be one item on there and then we turn around and come back and there will be 15 items on there.”

The art of giving is something Murray is familiar with in his life and with his ministry. In 2011, he and other members of the Faith Wesleyan Church decided to give away a few free meals.

“We had six or seven meals and we ran across an older lady that felt really blessed that we were giving her a meal and she wanted to pay for it,” explained Murray. “So, she gave us everything she had in her pockets, which was 16 cents.”

From that moment, 16 Cents Ministry was born. Every Saturday, volunteers would go bridge to bridge in Greensboro, feeding the homeless, holding worship sessions and giving away toiletries and clothes. Eventually, they settled on one bridge, on 300 Spring Garden Street. Between 200-350 people continued to meet there until recently when they were forced to move.

“The city moved us over because there’s going to be some construction under the bridge and there were some business complaints,” said Murray.

16 Cents didn’t go far. In fact, they just moved across the street in an abandoned parking lot on 201 Spring Garden; a parking lot, surrounded by a wire fence where they would eventually hang clothes for anyone in need to grab.

“I think eventually we will have a physical address. I think God’s got that in the works for us already," said Murray. “But, we give out what comes in. We don’t keep anything.”

Murray said he and his volunteers don’t care what people do with the clothes on the fence. He said, he doesn’t care if they sell them, wear them or if they have one jacket or 200 jackets. Murray explained, it wasn’t his place to judge.

“Our philosophy is, if God gives it to us and we give it away, what they do with it is between them and God. We don’t ever tell anyone that they don’t need something.”

It’s the same philosophy Murray brings to the weekly gatherings.

“We’re all one financial decision away or one job loss away or situation away from possibly being here ourselves."

Between 30 and 40 churches sponsor the Saturday worship ceremonies and dinners. Some people who attend simply enjoy the outdoor worship ceremony, but for the most part, the people attending are homeless or living in Section 8 housing, or elderly. Murray said the most important and fulfilling part of the weekly gatherings, is meeting, talking and understanding the struggle of others.

Murray said, stopping to fix a jacket on a hanger. “Until you can sit down with them and feel what they felt, then you really don’t know.”

16 Cents Ministry meets every Saturday at 6PM at 201 Spring Garden Street. Each meeting includes a “hot meal, fellowship, worship through music and God’s word and love.”