Mike Bunting’s garage is a distribution point.
On any given day, a television, bookcase, couch, washing machine and several racks of clothes could be found in the space—and it’s all because Bunting runs a ministry of sorts right out of his home. Bunting, a Conway native who retired as a skilled trades helper at the University of Central Arkansas Physical Plant in 2014, has collected and distributed donated items of all kinds for well over a decade for the elderly, low-income and others in need.
“I think the biggest thing is everybody needs a hand up at different times,” Bunting said.
Bunting was raised in a family of ministers and missionaries and considers service a key part of his upbringing. He began his ministry by collecting clothes for people of all ages and eventually added appliances, furniture, toys and more.
He does not advertise this work. Word of mouth keeps his ministry strong and much of that has come from UCA faculty and staff, who post about his need for donations online.
“They’ve been great. They have done basically the greater percentage of this,” Bunting said. “I started out with them, and it just kind of grew there. That’s basically where a lot of people got my name and my number from.”
Those in need can browse Bunting’s garage like a store. When someone doesn’t have a car, Bunting delivers the items free of charge. It’s been about eight years since he’s regularly stored a vehicle in his garage, he said.
“Actually, I considered renting a building one time because there were so many donations coming in I couldn’t accommodate everything in here,” he said.
In the future, Bunting hopes this outreach can be housed within his church, Sinai Church of God in Christ in Conway.
“I’m hoping at some point in time that I can actually move the distribution point from here to the church because it would be more accessible for people to come and look and everything,” he said.
Bunting said he plans on remaining persistent with this ministry, which allows him to see happiness on others’ faces.
“People are so grateful. They say, ‘Oh, man, thank you, thank you. We really appreciate this,’” he said. “That’s the joy that I get, the satisfaction I see on their face and the relief on their face. Because a lot of times they don’t have anything, and they’re desperate. They don’t have any money. When they get something, they’re really grateful.”