Spirit of Conway July 2016READ ONLINE
Maumelle church answers ‘call’Originally Published May 12, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 10, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.
First Baptist Church Maumelle is looking for ways to answer calls from foster parents across Arkansas through the church’s ministry The CALL Mall.
It is a branch of The CALL, which stands for Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime.
According to its website, The CALL is a Christian nonprofit organization designed to educate, equip and encourage the community to provide a future and hope for children in foster care. There are about 3,500 children
in the Arkansas foster care system at any given time, the website states.
The CALL Mall at First Baptist Church Maumelle, however, strives to meet the needs of the people who foster these 3,500 children in the area, said Tonia Walkup, co-coordinator of the organization.
“[Foster parents] can come and receive items for free that they need for their foster child,” Walkup said. “We have anything that a child needs from newborn to age 18.”
The items in the mall range from baby formula to backpacks to coats for the winter.
The CALL Mall at First Baptist Church Maumelle always accepts donations, Walkup said.
Walkup said there are at least three such “malls” in the central-Arkansas area.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” Walkup said.
Shauna Gould, co-coordinator of The CALL Mall in Maumelle, said the items available to foster parents are all donated.
“All of the workers who run The CALL Mall are volunteers,” Gould said.
Volunteers sort through donations and set up the “mall” like a store to make shopping easy for foster parents.
Gould has firsthand experience as a foster parent and can relate to the needs that foster parents have.
“I was a foster parent and then adopted our three,” Gould said. “I appreciate what The CALL Mall has to offer from that perspective.”
When foster parents come to shop at The CALL Mall, it gives them a chance to talk to other parents in the area.
“Being a foster parent is hard,” Gould said. “[The mall] is a way for someone to know there are other people out there.”
Gould said she and Walkup make the Maumelle CALL Mall different from other malls in the central-Arkansas area.
“[Walkup] gives information to new foster parents about different disorders you might come across,” Gould said. “She tells [parents] what to look for and what you need to do to help these children.”
This information is helpful to people who are fostering their first child, Gould said.
“[That information] gets you started on what you need, so the parents aren’t guessing,” Gould said.
Gould said her work with The CALL Mall has given her the opportunity to meet foster families in the area and has opened her eyes to the need for foster parents in Arkansas.
“We need more foster families,” Gould said.
The CALL Mall has given the community of Maumelle a way to band together to meet needs, Walkup said.
“I’ve seen the community really pull together for [the mall],” Walkup said.
The CALL Mall at First Baptist Church Maumelle is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every second and fourth Saturday of the month.
More information about The CALL Mall is available at www.fbcmaumelle.com.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at email@example.com.