Thrift Store needs your help to stop trash, dumping

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

Brenda Maynard shows all the items stacked floor-to-ceiling in the Thrift Store's storage building. Photo by Kathryn Jones

Brenda Maynard shows all the donated items stacked floor-to-ceiling in the Thrift Store’s storage building. Photo by Kathryn Jones

Contrary to the saying, one person’s trash is not always someone else’s treasure.

On many mornings, volunteers at the Thrift Store on Vernon Street arrive to find used, stained mattresses stacked against the outer wall, bags of trash stuffed in the donation bin and broken TVs, computers, printers and other appliances left outside.

Last Monday in the scorching heat of noon, volunteer John Faust tossed big plastic garbage bags full of trash into the bed of a pickup truck to be hauled away. He had to do the same thing a week earlier.

“We’ve become a trash dump,” his wife, Pat, said.

That certainly was never the intent. The Thrift Store accepts new and used items for resale. And it’s getting lots of contributions.

Pat Faust, Joann Brady and Brenda Maynard, the store’s volunteer directors, led the way to the back and opened the door to the storage shed. It was stacked floor-to-ceiling with bags and boxes full of clothes and other items.

“This is what we’ve got to sort through,” Brady said.

“It’s all we can do to get the store ready” for opening time, Maynard said. The store is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Dealing with the trash takes volunteers’ energy and time away from sorting and pricing usable items and selling them to help other nonprofit charities and individuals in need.

“We would not be here if it weren’t for the community,” Maynard said. “We’re just asking for their help to lighten the load.”

It’s a sticky situation – sometimes, literally, when trash is dumped – because the Thrift Store thrives on donations from the community and doesn’t want to discourage them.

But volunteers also said they need the community’s help to cut down on the amount of garbage and to be mindful of what kinds of items the shop can and cannot accept for resell.

Soiled, torn or broken items, as well as baby items such as playpens, vaporizers, strollers and anything that has been subject to a recall or might hurt or injure a child or cause liability are among the things the Thrift Store cannot resell.

So are used mattresses, which must be cleaned by an approved business according to strict state regulations before they can be resold legally.

Still, such items often are left in front of the store when it’s closed.

Volunteer John Faust loads bags of trash on Monday at the Thrift Store. Photo by Kathryn Jones

Volunteer John Faust loads bags of trash on Monday at the Thrift Store. Photo by Kathryn Jones

A public notice outside the store cites a city ordinance that makes it “unlawful to leave or deposit ANY items along city streets or public right-of-way…This includes the front of this building.

“All items may be left ONLY during open hours,” it adds.

That doesn’t stop dumpers, of course. Part of the reason behind the Thrift Store’s dumping problem is that the city-county Transfer Station charges people to deposit their trash, volunteers said.

Enforcing the ordinance is difficult, they added, because someone must catch the perpetrator in action or alert the city police and get a vehicle license plate number.

Bringing items into the store during working hours will ensure that they get into the hands of volunteers, the directors said. Contributors also can get a form documenting their donation for tax purposes.

Somervell County owns the cinderblock building and leases it to the nonprofit Thrift Store for $100 a month. Volunteers can call the county to come pick up big items dumped there.

Contributors also should keep in mind that most of the store’s 47 volunteers are women who cannot lift heavy items such as large TVs.

Medical supplies – such as walkers, crutches, braces, and clean bathroom items – should be taken to the Somervell County Citizens Center.

The Thrift Store has been contributing to the community for more than 50 years. It  started in 1963 when the Women’s Society of Christian Services began managing a rummage sale every Saturday in the Snyder Building downtown – the space most recently occupied by the Rummage Around store (now closed). It was so successful it was renamed “Thrift Store” and opened on Tuesdays and Saturdays, according to a church history.

“Year after year these church ladies went to their jobs: sorting, hanging and sometimes cleaning the things that were brought in to the store,” the historical account read. “By this time the sale had become a community affair as far as contributions were concerned.”

Volunteers in the Thrift Store's early days. Billie Flanary (back, right) is still a volunteer. Photo from First United Methodist Church history

Volunteers in the Thrift Store’s early days. Billie Flanary (back row, far right) is still a volunteer. Photo courtesy First United Methodist Church

In the years before 1980 one of First United Methodist Church’s Sunday school classes had charge of the store and used the money to finance projects for the class. Boo Summers and Billie Flanary were in charge of that project.

In 1980, the United Methodist Women organization took over the Thrift Store – although volunteers don’t have to be members of the Methodist church. The shop relocated to its current location in 1984 in a building previously occupied by the Volunteer Fire Department and the Little Theatre group.

A heater started a fire and burned the building and its contents in 1999. After rebuilding, the store reopened in 2000 and has become a hub of activity.

In 2012 the store raised $43,678; last year the figure rose to $49,000. That includes an annual carryover of about $20,000.

“It all goes back into the community,” Maynard said.

Aly Kelly, First United Methodist Church’s office administrator, is the only paid store employee and handles the applications from people requesting help with utility bills and other living expenses and keeps the financial records. She also is secretary of the Ministerial Alliance, which involves four local churches.

The first of every month, the Thrift Store gives the alliance $2,000, Maynard said.

In addition to helping those in need pay utility bills, Thrift Store proceeds have helped people pay for medications, a temporary place to stay and even paid for the burial of a baby.

The funds the store raises also go to help a variety of area charities, including the local Boy Scout troop, the LDL Educational Resources Foundation, the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco, the Somervell County Food Bank, sponsoring kids at Glen Lake Camp, the International Order of the Rainbow Girls, the Somervell History Foundation and church missions.

That includes helping Charity Shoes & Clothing LLC, a Dallas-based nonprofit that picks up clothing and shoes that the Thrift Store cannot sell because of their condition and donates them to Third World countries. The charity pays the store 10 cents a pound for clothes and 50 cents a pound for shoes. This is the store’s third year of working with that charity.

The store not only filled a need in the community, helping those less fortunate, it also has become a popular place for locals of all incomes to socialize and shop – some have dubbed it the “Neiman Marcus on the Square.” And, indeed, bargains can be found on new and used items and even a Neiman Marcus label shows up now and then.

For $5, customers can get a new plastic garbage bag and stuff it full of all they can carry from the store’s racks and shelves. The exception is a rack and shelf near the front desk, where some nicer items are individually priced.

Starting from a rummage sale, the little store had made a big difference in Glen Rose and Somervell County.

“We’ve grown and grown and grown,” Maynard said. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the people. But we do need them to help us.”

The Glen Rose Current, http://glenrosecurrent.com, is an online news site that makes its content available free to other publications and updates its news feed daily on Facebook.

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