CHESAPEAKE, Va. - My photographer Wayne Pellenberg and I recently sneaked up on the pastor's wife, Katie Morgan, at Bridge Christian Fellowship Church in Chesapeake.
You could tell by the look on Katie Morgan’s face that she didn’t see this - or us - coming.
Four years ago, Katie started the Great Exchange clothing store housed in a portable behind the church.
“It's like a giant closet, right, April? Like a closet we all share," Katie said.
The Exchange has more than 1,000 people in need in the Chesapeake community on file. Some patrons come from as far away as North Carolina and Franklin.
“If I outgrow something I can bring it in and someone else can enjoy it," Katie said.
“All those things you have that you don’t need; why don’t you recycle it?” I asked.
Twelve community groups - from crisis pregnancy to homeless shelters - shop at the Great Exchange.
“It’s on a point basis; no money ever changes hands. Whatever you bring in you get a point for, whatever you take out costs you a point," she explained.
And there is a community bank with points in case someone doesn’t have any.
April, who works at the front desk of the church, nominated Katie. She hears countless stories of how Katie’s Great Exchange has helped people.
“I hear things like, 'I don’t know what I’d do if it weren’t for this place.' You are such a blessing. I have seven children, and I couldn’t keep them in clothing if it weren’t for you," April told her.
“I’m just so grateful along with some of the other ladies who work with me that we’ve had the opportunity to do together and serve the community," says Morgan who says God inspired her and is the one truly responsible for the Exchange.
And for being such an outstanding member of her community, we presented Katie with a People Taking Action award along with a $300 gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.
Her friends and fellow volunteers feel Katie is one of the unsung heroes in the community, and now she's getting the attention she deserves.
“She doesn’t always recognize that fact that she is making a difference and she is, I like doing it with you... we love you.”