Christmas Sale Fundraiser to Support Ashland Christian Health Center
ASHLAND − A troupe of Kris Kringles watched Cheryl Benway as she walked through the basement-turned-store filled with enough vacation items to make a reindeer’s nose blush.
“It’s all Christmas decor,” she said. “Everything you need.”
Merchandise will be sold at a fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on November 12 at Ashland Christian Health Center380 E. Fourth St. Everyone is welcome to shop.
“The sale is being made through a generous donation to our ministry,” the organization’s executive director said. “The most valuable items have a price.”
Practice similar to a family doctor
The health center was started two decades ago by several local church congregations who wanted to help Ashland patients.
“We serve families who are uninsured or underinsured,” Benway explained.
Clinic staff handle around 700 patient visits each year, but they know the needs are far greater.
“I would say we’re a big guarded secret here in Ashland,” Benway said. “We don’t advertise. We’re all word of mouth.”
The facility offers the same level of care as most family physicians.
“Our patients look to us as their primary care provider,” Benway said.
Earlier this month, a man showed up at their office unannounced. He hadn’t visited them in three years, but trusted them when he wasn’t feeling well.
“He said he had double vision,” Benway said.
Staff realized his condition was serious, so they called a team to take him to hospital.
“A very faithful place”
Although many patients come to the health center for medical advice, others need access to equipment and medicines.
The organization offers a Medication Assistance Program that connects those in need to low-cost or free medications available from pharmaceutical companies.
“You have to meet the requirements,” Benway said. “They have a lot of conditions.”
Medical supplies are of all types and come from a myriad of sources.
“It’s a very loyal place,” Benway said. “God has provided all that was necessary.”
She is reminded of this arrangement almost weekly, such as in mid-October when a mother came to her asking for a special size diaper for juvenile incontinence that would have been hard to find no matter where she had looked.
“For the very first time we had it,” Benway said. “How is that a thing?”
Another request for a youth catheter received a similar response – the voucher had been randomly given away the previous week.
“No one really believes we’ll get exactly what we need,” Benway said. “But once it’s delivered, either it arrives next week or it’s already waiting here.”
Volunteers and donors always welcome
Patients don’t have to worry about high medical visit costs when they stop by Ashland Christian Health Center – there’s a suggested donation at every visit, but those who can’t pay with cash can agree to volunteer their time to help others in the community.
The clinic is run by volunteers. Medical staff have real jobs in other practices. The same goes for office workers, janitors and the maintenance team.
“You don’t have to be a doctor to volunteer,” Benway said. “Whatever gifts God has given you, we are a place where you can give them.
Those more apt to make financial contributions are also welcome, as the entire venue does not have guaranteed funding.
“We have several partner churches that give monthly or quarterly giving,” Benway said.
There are also a few grants, as well as individual donations.
“Our budget is very small,” Benway said. “But I don’t want that to be misleading.”
They are always able to do exactly what is needed with the resources provided to them.
“Completely blessed by our community”
Donations get a little more festive each fall when thousands of items start pouring into the health center.
“We are completely blessed by our community,” Benway said.
There are ornaments, angels, candle holders, boxes, wreaths, signs, trees, lights, stuffed animals and countless other holiday items – so many that donations are closed for this season.
“It was amazing,” Benway said. “Every time I come here I see something different.”
Those visiting the sale should plan to take home a few more items than they originally planned.
“We don’t keep anything,” Benway said. “Everything must go.”