LEXINGTON, Ky. – Emily Fox had her moment of inspiration for Forget the Frock while shopping for Easter outfits.
Somewhere amid the dresses and bows and shoes and light cardigans and white purses – the full Easter family-picture experience – she asked herself whether this was what God would want her to do to celebrate Easter.
“Lately God had been pressing on my heart with the words about caring for the least of these,” Fox said. “It seemed kind of frivolous to me to be so consumed with the perfect Easter outfit.”
On her phone was a text from an organization that feeds orphans. She clicked on its website, and a movement was born. Fox found that Feeding the Orphans sold a shirt with 100 percent of its proceeds going to help orphans in Ghana.
“A simple T-shirt could accomplish so much more than these hats and cardigans,” Fox said.
Rather than buying the color-coordinated Easter ensembles, Fox decided to go instead with the theme of Easter – forgiveness, resurrection and caring.
She created Forget the Frock, an organization that promotes giving on behalf of orphans and other underprivileged individuals.
Fox, who grew up in Liberty, Ky., and attended Western Kentucky University, is married to minister Jason Fox and now lives in Chandler, Ariz., where Jason Fox is mission pastor at Chandler Christian Church.
The Foxes have two young daughters, who Emily Fox says understand the principles behind Forget the Frock: “They know on Easter that we wear shirts that feed hungry babies. That’s just a way of life for them.”
Since it started in 2011, Emily Fox’s Forget the Frock organization – Forgetthefrock.org – has expanded to more than 40 churches in states that include Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arizona and Indiana. Fox said the organization is on track to meet or exceed its 2014 goal of raising $50,000.
Her former church, Living Grace in Campbellsville, Ky., participates in the program, whose slogan is that a shirt “feeds a kid for a month and clothes you for Easter.”
The first year, Fox recalled, “we were not even trying to raise any money and by accident, sort of, raised about $4,000.”
Benson Sexton, a communications instructor at Lindsey Wilson College who is a member of Living Grace Church, said he was among the people to whom Fox first pitched the Forget the Frock idea.
“It caught on in our church,” Sexton said. “The majority of the congregation participated that first year.”
Meanwhile, he said, “Other churches got word … and wanted to participate in the same way. After Emily moved to Arizona, it has become a full-fledged movement.”
The church makes announcements about Forget the Frock leading up to Easter, runs promotional videos and sets up information tables in its lobby.
On Easter Sunday, Sexton said, people who have bought T-shirts wear them, “and it’s a very celebratory experience. We do family photos.”
Sexton’s 6-week-old son has a special Forget the Frock onesie.
Gordy Prather, minister at Science Hill Christian Church, said he and his wife, Lindsay, heard about the program in 2011 when they were youth ministers in Florida.
“This year we have challenged the whole church to step up and accept,” he said. “I know there’s at least 50 of us.”
The congregation is about 125-strong. “We’ve been trying to impress on our church members here that there’s more that we can do, and there are little things we can do in the day to day,” Gordy Prather said. “Not everybody can go to the Third World on a mission trip. Not everybody can adopt a child or even sponsor a child … but this is something everyone can do. It’s something parents can use as a teaching tool, even at a young age.”