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Calhoun Association relocates community thrift storecomment (0)

May 22, 2014

By Anna Keller

Calhoun Baptist Association offers outreach and support to its neighbors by way of service centers that provide food and clothing to those in need. In an effort to supplement the funding for the service centers, Calhoun Association opted to open Open Doors Thrift store in 2013 in a small doublewide trailer that had been donated for the cause. It wasn’t long before the store needed more room, and volunteers went to work to make that happen.  

Feeding people and their souls

“Last year we served over 3,300 families and 61 souls were saved through the (service centers) ministry,” said Jim Davis, associate director of church and community ministries for Calhoun Association. “We gave out close to 120,000 pounds of food.”

The thrift store was able to raise money to help the ministry, but the space and location were both limiting, so Jerry Duncan, who’d been involved in the original thrift store ministry, began searching for a new space to occupy.

“I looked at about 40 to 50 properties between December and March before I found the space we ultimately chose,” Duncan said.

Duncan and Davis are both thrilled with the thrift store’s new location. It’s a former car repair shop in a high-traffic spot.

Location and volunteers

“We negotiated a rent agreement and then started searching for volunteers to come in to clean the place up and make it ready,” Davis said, noting they worked on the property for about three months.

Thankfully they weren’t short on volunteers anxious to make the space perfect for the thrift store. They had help from Carpenters for Christ; a men’s ministry out of Meadowbrook Baptist Church, Oxford; a group of electricians came from Mount Zion Baptist Church, Alexandria; and local youth groups also contributed to improve the facility in time for its May 8 soft opening and May 10 grand opening.

Now that the store has grown from having 635 square feet to 2,500 square feet, they’ll be open three days a week instead of one to two, meaning their volunteer workforce needed to increase.

One such volunteer is Judy Pritchett, who learned about Open Doors Thrift while volunteering at the Calhoun County Baptist Association Service Center. Pritchett and other volunteers are from area Baptist churches and some split their volunteer time between the thrift store and other Calhoun Baptist outreaches, like the service centers.

Positive comments on cleanliness and quality

Pritchett is proud of the quality of merchandise the store offers and said they’ve received several positive comments about the cleanliness of the building and the good prices on clothing. (Area churches donate 70 percent of the clothing for the thrift store, and much of the rest of their inventory comes from other secondhand clothing stores in town and donations from individuals.)

“People have an opportunity not only to save money with their purchases, but others will benefit from the proceeds,” she said. “People in Calhoun are very generous when it comes to helping others.”

Volunteering close to home

Davis said he continues to be inspired by the volunteers who support Open Doors Thrift and other Calhoun Association ministries.

“I encourage the churches to tell their people that while it’s good to go overseas and take the gospel around the world, you can be a missionary right here in our own community and the lost come to you through the doors or our service centers,” he said. “We see over 300 families a month, and it’s a joyful ministry to be a part of. The thrift store will help enhance what we can do for those families in need.”

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