Love INC is a non-profit orga­ni­zation that orga­nizes the min­is­terial efforts of 13 partner churches.

The Hillsdale county affiliate of Love INC, which stands for Love In The Name Of Christ, had its first annual Fes­tival of Love fundraising event at Johnny T’s Bistro on November 17th.

Love INC of Hillsdale County is a non-profit orga­ni­zation that orga­nizes the min­is­terial efforts of 13 partner churches by oper­ating a clear­ing­house to direct aid to those in need. People call their churches and are referred to Love INC and its vol­un­teers, who connect them with a church in the area who can help to meet whatever their need is. Love INC also helps churches pool their money if there is a larger need than any of them could not have met on their own.

“Love INC is very prac­tical. A lot of the churches in town are pretty small and can’t do much to help folks. They might have a min­istry for diapers or a min­istry for paying util­ities for people but its hard for them to get that knowledge out into the com­munity,” Rev­erend Adam Rick, chaplain of Hillsdale College, said. “Anytime churches can combine resources in a small com­munity like this, I think it serves the kingdom much better.”

The Fes­tival of Love included a per­for­mance by Christian comedian Tim Chappell and a silent auction that fea­tured items donated by partner churches and com­munity members. The event raised more than $5,000, and the money raised from the Fes­tival of Love will be used to offset the cost of oper­ating the clear­ing­house and ren­o­vating Love INC’s head­quarters.

Exec­utive Director of Love INC Jen­nifer Somsel said that the clear­ing­house operated by Love INC has the potential to transform lives in a way that gov­ernment aid never could because the vol­un­teers give people what they need to prosper, and not just an imper­sonal handout.

“We had a person call, and they needed shoes because they were looking for a job,” Somsel said. “And from the vol­unteer talking to him, we found out he was living in a hotel and that he had a storage unit full of stuff that he lost because he couldn’t pay for it. He ended up getting a nice job but he didn’t have any gas money to get back an forth to get to that first check. We were able to make sure he had gas money to back and forth to work and we were able to get him some dishes and fur­niture so that when he got his apartment he could move right in. There’s a guy, he was just calling for shoes.”

Luke Miller ’01 is the pastor at Som­erset Con­gre­ga­tional Church, one of partner churches of Love INC Hillsdale. Miller also sits on Love INC’s board of directors. Miller said he believes there are good vol­unteer oppor­tu­nities for Hillsdale stu­dents.

“There are two ways stu­dents and Love INC could partner,” Miller said. “One is that they could take calls and make ver­i­fi­ca­tions and the other is that when we have spe­cific needs, groups of stu­dents can come out and help us meet needs. Not everybody who calls us just asks for money.”

Somsel said Love INC plans to expand so they can offer more to the com­munity than just the clear­ing­house. Somsel said Love INC may someday offer classes in wealth man­agement and teach people life skills, like how to cook or prepare healthy meals for kids. One of the other pro­grams Somsel hopes to start with the help of the partner churches is an after school program for the youth of Hillsdale County.

Miller said he wants to expand the reach of Love INC to include as many partner churches in the county as pos­sible.

“It’d be great if everyone could see how Love INC could benefit them and become a part of it,” Miller said. “I think it could be really uni­fying thing for the Christian com­munity.”

“I’d love to have an after-school program where we could take vol­un­teers from the high schools and from the College who would vol­unteer their time to help kids with their homework and be a role model for kids,” Somsel said. “I think that is some­thing we lack in this com­munity.”