Inspiring Okeechobee Thomas tries to do what’s right

Lake Okeechobee News/ Cathy Womble
Cebrena Thomas operates Mission for God on Northwest 11th Street.

OKEECHOBEE — Cebrena Thomas is on a mission for God and said she will continue her work until the day she dies. “If a hurricane comes and blows away my mission house, I will put up a tent and give away things to people who need them inside a tent,” she said.

Ms. Thomas operates her little mission out of a mission house in her backyard and has been doing so since the Salvation Army thrift store closed down many years ago. “Somebody has to make sure poor people can get the clothes and things they need for their families,” she said. “ I give them clothes. I feed them if they are hungry, and I take them in if they need a place to stay. I don’t have any money, because I’m on a fixed income, but I give what I can. I want to do what’s right.”

When Salvation Army had their thrift store and you could get a bag of clothes for a dollar, Ms. Thomas used to sell her clothing. She didn’t charge much she said, maybe a dime or a quarter, but when they went out of business, she said to herself, “Shoot, poor people won’t have anywhere to go to get anything.”

She decided right then that she would turn her little shop into a mission where people could come and get clothes for free. They can get as much as they want and come back as many times as they want, she said. Her only request is that they not sell the things she gives them. “People donate it to me, and I give it to them, so I just ask that they not ever sell it.”

She gets a lot of donations but not as many as she used to, she said. She thinks not as many people know about her anymore. She has a real shortage of children’s clothing right now, she said. Some of the families she helps have a lot of children, and the clothing for young children goes fast. People bring donations and if she isn’t home, they just leave them on her porch. She takes just about anything.

The mission gives away clothing, shoes, blankets, school supplies, purses, baby equipment, medical equipment, food, anything that is donated will find a home somewhere, she said. If someone donates perishable food, she puts it in her freezer and then takes it to families she knows need it. She washes all the clothes, tags them by size and hangs them up. If people donate money, she usually buys detergent with it, she said.

Mostly, knowledge about her mission is spread through word of mouth, but she has printed up some fliers to put in windows of local businesses. Her dream would be to some day have a bigger place for the mission house, but that will probably only happen if someone who knows how to write grants volunteers to help her. For right now, she is content to work out of her little mission house in her back yard. “I feel like this is what God has put me here to do,” she said. “Somebody’s got to do it.” The mission is located at 925 N.W. 11th Street, and Ms. Thomas can be reached at 863-261-6579.

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