Autumn’s needs leave thrift shop’s cupboards bare
Pete Dickerson is grateful for the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank.
Because of the assistance he received there Friday morning, Dickerson and his family will have a roof over their heads Thanksgiving Day.
Dickerson, who lives in Ozawkie, has been HIV positive for two years. In order to keep the virus from progressing, he must take $900 worth of medication each month, a financial burden he can barely keep up with.
After talking to Dickerson, Dorothy Korb, one of the thrift shop's team of volunteer managers, arranged for a check to be sent to his landlord.
Dickerson had been taken to the thrift shop by neighbors Jerry and Rachel Comstock, who also frequent the thrift shop. When they left, Jerry Comstock carried a box of food given to Dickerson by the thrift shop.
"As of right now they're still without lights and water, so this will help them," Jerry Comstock said.
The Comstocks said they were referred to the thrift shop last year by the Jefferson County Health Depart-ment, Rachel Comstock said. "We needed some help with our light bill."
Since then they've been coming back for groceries and to shop. Rachel said the prices at the thrift shop are lower than other similar shops where, she said jeans may sell for $8-10.
"Here the jeans are 50 cents or a dollar," Comstock said. "There's a lot of people that just can't afford to pay eight or ten dollars for jeans."
An increased number of requests for assistance is putting Tonganoxie's Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank's resources to the test, said Dorothy Korb, who saw at least half a dozen applicants Friday morning.
"Maybe the scare of the war has got people worrying what's going to happen to them," Korb said. "It's definitely hurt the job situation."
She doesn't foresee a slowdown in business.
"We've already had 42 requests this month and the month's not half over," Korb said.
Requests range for assistance in paying rent and utilities, to requests for food and clothing.
In 2000, proceeds from sales of clothing and other household items, and donations, totaled about $50,000. Of that, the thrift shop donated $14,325 in cash assistance for utilities and $12,200 for rent. Families may request cash assistance only once every six months.
And in 2000, the thrift shop donated about $20,000 worth of food and $15,000 worth of clothing.
On volunteer time
The thrift shop, which operates solely with volunteer labor out of a former church at Fourth and Shawnee, seems to be bursting at the seamsbut not with food, which is direly needed now.
Early Friday morning, the shelves of the food pantry were nearly bare. Thrift shop volunteers used a Knights of Columbus $300 donation to purchase turkeys and hams, and to buy canned foods.
Jerry Jones, who has volunteered at the thrift shop since it opened more than 10 years ago, said she has never seen the food supply so low.
The shop was looking forward to the arrival of food collected in a Tonganoxie High School food drive.
When asked what types of items the thrift shop needs, Dorothy Korb's answer is short: "Everything."
She adds that food, as well as household cleaning items, soaps and shampoos, things not covered by food stamps, also are needed.
As she speaks, there is a knock at her door, which she opens.
A woman's soft voice says: "I was wondering if someone could help me get some financial assistance."
Some of these people like her who are asking for help are out of work, or have recently been laid off, Korb said.
And like Dickerson, who received assistance Friday, it's not just Tonganoxie residents who are helped.
"We help all of Leavenworth County," Korb said, explaining that several charities in Leavenworth help Leavenworth residents. "And we help with Jefferson County because there's not that many places that they can get help from."