Store gives help, bargins to area

William Thompson

The St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store , 188 W. Main Street sells on average $150 worth of items a day three days a week.

Most of the proceeds go to help needy individuals with food, clothing, household goods and even utility bills.
Maria Elam, president of the local St. Vincent DePaul Society said a steady flow of donated items have been coming in to the store. “The community has been really generous,” said Elam. “Our biggest need is for more childrens’ clothing and furniture in good condition.”

Elam and about a dozen volunteers, mostly retirees, do all the work necessary to keep the store running.
“We would love to have more volunteers, especially younger volunteers,” she said. “Two Mormon missionaries come by once a week to help. Just coming by for an hour per week to help would be great.” Elam said all a person needs is an I.D. to receive financial assistance from St. Vincent De Paul.
“We also require that some individuals get checked out by local police to see if they are wanted for a crime,” said Elam. “We can pay a portion of a person’s utility bill depending on the amount of the bill and the person’s financial need.”

Elam said some individuals are sent to La Casa de La Hope. “When a person comes in and requests food, we give as much food as we can based on the person’s need and how much we have. We then urge that person to wait three months before coming back for more food,” she said, “but if they are in dire need we sometimes send them to La Casa de la Hope for food.” Currently, the charity is not paying portions of utility bills because extensive work was recently done to the roof of the building and the store has a large bill to pay. Elam said utility bill help should resume in the near future.

Local shoppers can find plenty of bargains at the thrift store. Men’s suits and womens’ dresses are selling for $3. Rows of shelving are filled with inexpensive dishware and cookware. Elam said the prices of items are negotiable based on a person’s need. Linda Donwerth visited the store Friday and bought some vacuum cleaner bags. “I’ve bought a pleated red skirt and a Liz Claiborne jumpsuit for my mother here before,” said Donwerth. “I even bought myself a red 1940’s purse that was a steal at $2.”

Donwerth said she previously thought the St. Vincent DePaul Store proceeds went only to help Catholic charities. She learned Friday that the store will help anyone in need.
“I think that’s a good thing because everybody needs help sometimes,” she said. According to the store’s 2003 annual report, the store took in $21,213 in sales. Store expenses were $6,929. More than $10,000 in utility bill help was given out and more than $5,800 in food was given to needy individuals.