Archive for Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Time to lend thrift shop a hand

November 9, 2005

We have a dilemma in Tonganoxie.

The Good Shepherd Thrift Shop is packed to the gills.

Recently, the charity, which long has been a repository and a market for used furniture, as well as clothing and other items, announced it no longer could accept furniture, other than that for infants.

A year ago, the thrift shop, at Fourth and Shawnee, began using the Friends Church parsonage, which is across the street from the charity, to store large pieces of furniture.

That building is now being shifted back to its original use as a parsonage.

So the thrift shop is back to where it was -- cramped.

Tonganoxie's thrift shop was started about 20 years ago by Bob and Shirley Kasper, along with other community members. The charity began in a small rented shop on Fourth Street. Business grew. The board agreed to buy the former Christian Church building for $28,000. The charity proved to be such a success that the 10-year bank note was paid off in three years.

The thrift shop provides numerous benefits to the community and area.

There's the obvious advantage of being able to buy merchandise at almost-free prices. Everyone in a family easily could be clothed by bargains found at the thrift shop.

In fact, a house could nearly be furnished -- with bedding, kitchenware and other items available in the thrift shop's basement.

Proceeds from the volume of donated items sold at the thrift shop add up. Each year the charity donates thousands of dollars in cash assistance to area residents. The thrift shop helps with rent payments, utilities and, in some cases, prescription medicine costs.

Area residents, individually and through school or other organizational-sponsored food drives, round up nonperishable food items for the thrift shop, which, in turn, distributes them to area families.

And, in the rare chance that the thrift shop's pantry runs low, the charity has the funds to buy food to give away.

When Thanksgiving and Christmas come along, area residents and organizations adopt families, through the thrift shop, to prepare a holiday dinner for, or to buy and wrap Christmas presents for.

Those are some of the obvious ways the thrift shop helps the community.

Then there's the other benefits.

For the 90 or so volunteers, many of whom spend several days a week working at the thrift shop, it's a place where they can help others.

And it's a social outlet. Stop by the thrift shop any day and you'll hear laughter, visiting and good-natured ribbing.

It's hard work sorting through the voluminous supply of bags of clothing and other items, but clearly, the unpaid workers don't mind.

Another benefit that having a charity like that in town is it gives us a place to take good clothes and other items that we no longer use. There are probably few among us who have not felt fortunate to be able to have a place to take these items to -- especially during a closet-cleaning spree at home.

At the thrift shop, every inch of the two-story building is used. From a corner of a stairwell where framed prints (that are for sale) hang on the wall, to the former sanctuary filled with hanging clothes, to the basement kitchen where men repair small appliances, there's no space to spare at the charity.

As an outsider, I realize the thrift shop needs a new building. Though its present location is convenient, the building is landlocked.

We all know the $28,000 the charity paid for the building is a thing of the past. Tonganoxie's property values have skyrocketed since then. My guess is it would take a minimum of at least $150,000 to buy or build something larger.

I don't know how that could be accomplished, but I do know this is an entity that fills a valuable niche, and need, in the community.

For 20-some years the thrift shop has given to the community. Perhaps it's time for the communityto give back to the thrift shop.

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