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Christian Connection expands community outreach

Published: Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Jeff Engelhardt – jengelhardt@shawmedia.com)
Kelli Malm (left) and her mother Shari stand next to a Christian Store Week 2012 display at their store Christian Connection in Sycamore Wednesday. The store is selling CDs for world hunger relief and holding daily raffles for customers.

For Shari Malm, national Christian store week is not about highlighting her business, but putting the spotlight on the reasons she started a Christian bookstore more than eight years ago.

Malm, owner of Christian Connection in Sycamore, is celebrating Christian Store Week 2012 by hosting a community food drive in cooperation with Salem Lutheran Church and Sycamore United Methodist Church as well as selling a special enhanced CD compilation available for a $5 donation to raise awareness of the need for food assistance and support World Vision U.S. food and anti-poverty programs.

It is the first time Malm has worked directly with local churches on a project, but she said it was time to reach out more as her store takes on a larger role.

“It’s helping us kind of take that step in doing more for the community,” she said. “We know so many people that need the food pantries in the area so I wanted to bring the national goal of Christian store week closer to home.”

Kelli Malm, who operates the store with her mother, said the Christian store week has given them a chance to focus on expanding the services of the store. She said the role has changed drastically in the past few years, especially with the closing of Cornerstone Christian Supplies & Gifts last January.

She said Christian stores are harder to find, but there are still people that will come from long distances just to have some of their spiritual needs met.

“We have people come in all the time to pray or to talk or maybe they just need a hug,” Kelli Malm said. “There is that desire to reach God’s people and be a benefit to the community.”

The week’s events have inspired Shari Malm to expand her community outreach on her own and help when she can. She said after the food drive with local churches ends, she hopes to coordinate a winter clothing drive for those in need.

“At first my primary goal was to sell books,” she said. “But now I see it more as a ministry.”

Turnout and sales have been a little slow, Shari Malm said, but it has still be a rewarding and fun experience. She said the store hosted a bake sale Saturday for the Mason Court After-School Program and will welcome award-winning author Maureen Lang this Saturday at 1 p.m. to sign copies of her new book “Bees in the Butterfly Garden.”

While the national week officially ends Oct. 8, Shari Malm said the store would continue to sell the CD “Lift Up,” which features artists such as Remedy Drive and Sidewalk Prophets as well as audio book recordings, until it is sold out.

Sue McMillan, secretary for Salem Lutheran Church, which is partnering with Christian Connection for the food drive, said no donation or helping effort is too small and was glad to see the store and church finally partner.

“I think it’s really wonderful when any local business reaches out to the community, but it’s especially good to see one with a Christian background.”

Shari Malm said the store also is holding multiple sales in conjunction with the event and a daily raffle where customers can win various items in the store.

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Christian Connection

Address: 337 W. State St., Sycamore

Phone: 815-899-3262

Website: www.christianconnection.biz

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