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Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Stock the Missionary Closet at Your Church

Photo courtesy of stockimages,

A friend asked me to ask my missionary friends for things they’d like to find in a missionary closet as well as things they wouldn’t use. I was overwhelmed by the many answers, so I felt like sharing their list with you.

Maybe your church already has a missionary closet, or maybe it doesn’t. Here’s my own definition: a “missionary closet” is a place in the church where helpful items are collected, so that missionaries that visit your church can go through and take what they can use.” Some churches use a point system, where the missionary can take up to 25 points, for example. Others let them go through and choose anything they can use. I have yet to see any missionary abuse this generosity. Most are choosy, since it is costly to take anything overseas. They think about present travel needs as well as their future needs on the field.

RECOMMENDED ITEMS (Most recommended first, least last)
  • Gift cards—gas, restaurants, Walmart, hair stylists, Amazon, etc.—preferably to chain stores, restaurants and stations.
  • Kids’ travel games and activities—books, sticker books, coloring books and crayons, games, etc.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Stamps
  • Thank you and blank notes
  • Baby wipes, cleaning wipes
  • Travel-size shampoos, conditioners
  • Girls’ hair clips, bows, bobby pins
  • Travel sewing kits
  • Diapers—name brands, several sizes
  • Music and children’s CDs
  • Unscented lotions—Quite a few missionaries said unscented because of allergies. Some also said Bath and Bodyworks lotions.
  • Unscented laundry detergent pods
  • Duct tape
  • Breath mints
  • Good make-up (Mary Kay, Avon, etc.)
  • Essential oils
  • Flash drives
  • Shaving supplies (for men and women)
  • Cough drops (some sugar free)
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes
  • Small tool kit
  • Small office items
  • Books—missionary biographies, children’s books, homeschooling books
  • School supplies—pens, pencils, highlighters, paper, etc.
  • Paper plates, bowls
  • Travel snacks
  • Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Advil
  • Good multi-vitamins
  • Travel snacks
  • Yarn—for the crafty traveling lady
  • New duffel bags, carry-ons, luggage
  • Towels, wash cloths, hand towels, dish cloths, dish towels
  • Sheets
  • Seasonal decorations and or tablecloths: Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas
  • quarters for laundromats (small bags of them)
Usually, missionaries do not want clothing, but here are a few things—new and in style, please—that would be nice in your missionary closet: nice, men’s black socks; boys’ ties; children’s socks, slipper socks, girls’ tights, children’s clothing, pantyhose, costume jewelry, scarves, purses. (These last three and boys' ties can be used and in good condition.)

  • Anything that's past the expiration date and old
  • Anything you wouldn’t be delighted with yourself
  • Old clothing
  • Underwear
  • Large-size toiletries
  • Large toys for children—no space in vans!

One thing that several of the women mentioned is that it’s much easier to go through the missionary closet by themselves. They know what they need and don’t need, and they don’t like to feel pressured to take things they don’t have space for or can’t use. Many missionaries live in small spaces on the field, and when they are on deputation, there is only so much space in a car or van. (Some said the same for going shopping. They didn’t want to feel pressured to find an outfit. They would rather find one by themselves.)

Every missionary appreciates a missionary closet! It shows you care about your missionaries and about what they’re doing on the field. If your church supports missionaries, this is one way your people can be a blessing to them.

I’d love to know if you found this list helpful. Does your church already have a missionary closet ? (If not, maybe you can start one!) Please share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. As someone who used to be in charge of a missions closet, I appreciate this a lot! We inherited the ministry from someone who left our church to help in another ministry, and at first we just restocked what they had in there. Then by asking visiting missionaries for suggestions and thinking through what kinds of things they might be able to use, we adjusted it bit by bit. So many churches have gone to just giving gift cards, and while that's helpful and efficient, it misses that personal touch. I wrote a post about ours here in response to someone's question:

    One other thing we did there, which I forgot to mention in that post, was that we kept a guest book for the missionaries to sign when they came through. It was fun to flip through the pages and remember their visits. I felt I got to know them a bit better through those few moments with them. We only asked them to sign their names with the date, but some wrote little notes as well, and those were precious to read.

    1. I am excited to read what you wrote. I was inspired by a lady who asked me to ask my friends for comments, and I just compiled them. I appreciate your love for missions and missionaries, Barbara! God bless you as you continue to serve others in so many ways.

  2. Is there a "printable" view? I would like a copy of this list to pass on to others.
    Thanks for posting this.

    1. Hi Nancy, you are welcome to print this as is, or if you would like to get only the post, please contact me through the e-mail address provided in the "About Me" tab, at the top of the page. I would then send you a copy by attachment. Thank you for your interest in helping others.

  3. We have been missionaries since 1979 and have visited many missionary closets. We love them! We have received many useful items and appreciate them very much. Thank you, and many others, for serving us in this way.

    1. Thank you, Vicki. We have been blessed by them, too. We appreciate that people want to help us as we travel. God bless you and your ministry!

    2. I am just being taken on as a "helper" to the lady who takes care of our Missionary Supply Room. I love the above ideas but I see that they were listed back in 2015. Are there any updates to this list? Thank you.

    3. Hi Unknown, I have never done another survey, but I understand that gift cards are more popular all the time--to popular chain restaurants, Amazon, Walmart, etc.


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