Youthful innocence has led to the blossoming of a new ministry at Redeemer Lutheran Church, which is reaching out to people in need.
Daniel’s Closet was inspired by the innocent concern of a little boy — Daniel Horn, who decided that something more had to be done to help the poor.
The grandson of Barb Horn, Daniel was 8 years old when he saw a need and was led to try to help. He is the son of Brian Horn and Charlene Williams, both of Loyalsock Township.
‘‘This all started about a year ago in March,’’ Barb Horn said of her grandson.
‘‘My grandson and Jeff Easter, our council vice president, were outside at the entrance of the church and a gentleman walked up and asked if he could come inside to get warm,’’ Horn said.
Daniel immediately went into help mode and wanted to assist the man even more.
‘‘We invited him in and Daniel said, ‘Oh, do you need some food? We have a shopping basket upstairs,’’’ Horn said.
Easter and Horn offered the man a cup of coffee and talked to him for a time. After the encounter, Daniel was bubbling with enthusiasm and wanted to help people more.
Daniel said he was moved by the man who visited the church to get warm that cold spring day last year.
‘‘I thought of it (Daniel’s Closet) because this guy who came there looked poor and it looked like he didn’t have anything,’’ Horn said.
‘‘We asked him if he needed clothes and he said yes, so we gave him some clothes.’’
The boy said he wants to continue to give to people.
‘‘People like him need help and it would be a good thing for them to get help.’’
‘‘After we left (the church) Daniel, his sister Elizabeth and brother Matt and I all went to East End Park,’’ Horn said. ‘‘He said to me, ‘Nanna, we have to do something for people like this. We should have coats to give them,’ and he went on and on. It was like the (Holy) Spirit grabbed him. It was all he could talk about.’’
Daniel’s inspiration was contagious, too. Horn arranged for Daniel to talk to the Rev. Roy Meyer, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran.
‘‘I’ve never seen a child so really enlightened by something like this,’’ Horn said.
Shaking the ladder
Daniel went to tell the pastor about the idea and convinced him it might be a good idea. The pastor was up on a ladder outside the church when the boy came to visit.
‘‘Daniel came running out of the car and shook my ladder,’’ Meyer said.
‘‘He told me all about it and we talked about it the next day at church. It took a little doing to get people interested, but it finally took off.’’
Meyer said the effort even garnered some donations on the first weekend Daniel’s Closet was open.
‘‘The clothing is free and somebody gave donations to us,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll turn that around and have snacks the next time.’’
Horn said the pastor was taken by Daniel’s enthusiasm.
‘‘He just about fell off the ladder when this little guy came running up to tell him his plan,’’ Horn said.
‘‘Picking a name took a little time. They came up with several different names this past summer. In the summer and early fall, the children of the church had come up with Daniel’s Closet.’’
The name seemed appropriate because the boy’s grandfather also was named Dan.
‘‘We had three coats of his,’’ Horn said. ‘‘My husband died 10 years ago waiting for a heart transplant and my grandson Daniel was born in December, so my theory is they passed each other and traded notes, one of them on the way in and the other on the way out.’’
On Feb. 25 of this year, the church evangelism committee met and the church council approved it at its March 6 meeting.
‘‘We wanted it to coincide with the Angel Food ministry at our neighbor church (Faith Wesleyan), because people will be in the neighborhood,’’ Horn said.
Flyers have been posted at other area ministries, grocery stores, laundromats and others. The first Daniel’s Closet session was a bigger success than Horn and church volunteers expected when it was held March 15.
‘‘It was all set up on short notice, but we were amazed at the number of people who showed up,’’ she said.
‘‘We got about 60 people and what got to me is that we are getting children to seniors, from many walks of life.’’
The Daniel’s Closet was set up in the basement of the church because there were plenty of leftovers from a church rummage sale, with winter clothing that was still available, Horn said.
‘‘We were there from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and we will be there on April 19 and May 17,’’ she explained.
Daniel’s Closet is looking for donations of clean clothes only. Household goods and shoes are not being accepted by the ministry.
‘‘We need children’s clothing,’’ Horn said. ‘‘We need spring and summer clothing and we have drop-off on Sunday mornings at the church.’’
One of the first items given away to someone in need was a coat that belonged to Daniel’s grandfather.
‘‘He had a red and black plaid coat,’’ Horn said, remembering her husband. ‘‘I think it was a Woolrich coat.’’
According to his grandmother, Daniel T. Horn is the middle child in his family and is a third-grade student at Schick Elementary School in Loyalsock Township.
She said he is into playing baseball and also likes computer games, rides his bicycle and is active in Cub Scouts.
Among other things, Daniel is active as an acolyte at the church, located at 1101 Washington Blvd.
‘‘He sees something and can’t see why you can’t do it,’’ Horn said of him.
‘‘He is a pretty exuberant child and he is observant. He sees things others don’t.’’
Because of that enthusiasm, about a half-dozen members of the congregation at Redeemer Lutheran have volunteered to help once per month with Daniel’s Closet.
Daniel’s parents are both surprised and proud of what their son is doing.
‘‘He’s a very caring little boy,’’ his father, Brian, said.
‘‘Being a small child, he’s a mediator and wants to do whatever he can to soothe things. He’s the type to do something for others rather than himself.
‘‘I’m very proud of him. This is a neat project he has going there.’’
Daniel’s mother, Charlene, is equally proud.
‘‘He is a very giving, compassionate child,’’ she said.
‘‘Whenever he comes up with an idea, he follows it through. He was at the opening of Daniel’s Closet and they were very successful.’’
She said Daniel’s elders can learn something from him.
‘‘We’re all just very proud of him.’’ she said. ‘‘For a 9-year-old to think of something like this, something that adults could have thought of — it’s pretty amazing.’’