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Thrift Store Shopping that Makes an Eternal Impact

Updated on July 26, 2014
Donations to thrift stores of gently used items are a great way to recycle and help relieve poverty and battle injustice
Donations to thrift stores of gently used items are a great way to recycle and help relieve poverty and battle injustice | Source
Clothes are a standard item found at thrift stores
Clothes are a standard item found at thrift stores | Source

Why Shop Faith-based Thrift Stores?

Most of us are familiar with the common reasons we frequent thrift stores. In a world plagued by increasing unemployment and slimmer wallets, thrift stores offer gently used items for far less. There’s also the lure of the unique treasure that might be found among the racks and shelves.

The environment benefits as well. The purchase of good quality, “pre-owned” items means less in our landfills and less fossil fuels used for production and transportation. It’s cheap recycling!

However, buy from faith based thrift stores and your dollars stretch supernaturally! While you get more for your money, a child is rescued from prostitution, a village receives a safe water supply, a homeless person gets off the streets or someone hears about new life in

Shoppers and shop owners alike fulfill the mandate: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” (Psalm 82:3 NIV)

What do some of these ministries look like and how do they relieve the distress of “the afflicted and needy”?

The Re-uzit store in New Holland, PA, run by the Mennonite Central Committee, had the items in this picture for sale the last time I visited
The Re-uzit store in New Holland, PA, run by the Mennonite Central Committee, had the items in this picture for sale the last time I visited | Source

Mennonite Thrift Stores Spark Global Change

I love to visit the local “Reuzit Shop” in my home area of Lancaster County, PA. It is part of a unique chain of thrift stores found in nearly one hundred locations in the United States and Canada. I’ve found cute additions to my wardrobe and I’ve also taken home back issues of favorite magazines as well as books and greeting cards.

Each store is independently owned and the names vary; “Et Cetera Shops” or “Care and Share,” among others. But their motto, “Where every purchase is a gift to the world,” is the same and the profits benefit the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

Some stores even carry used books
Some stores even carry used books | Source
Thrift store purchases can relieve suffering during natural disasters such as flooding in developing nations like Qmar's.
Thrift store purchases can relieve suffering during natural disasters such as flooding in developing nations like Qmar's. | Source

Small Denomination With a Big Heart

The Mennonite church forms one of the smallest Christian denominations in the world but is known for its big heart in regards to missions, relief work, and financial giving. MCC says it seeks to bring peace and justice to people from all walks of life. It seeks to bring communities worldwide “into right relationship with God, one another and creation.”

It also works alongside other humanitarian groups to provide relief in the wake of disasters or improve living conditions for impoverished communities through initiatives such as construction of a clean water supply system or training in improved agricultural methods.

Combined annual sales from the thrift stores total several million dollars. These funds benefit people such as Said Qamar his family who live in Pakistan.

Qamar's Story

In July of 2010, torrential rains resulted in landslides that tore through their village. Qamar, his wife, and his family of eight children and four nieces and nephews lost everything including the small farm where he made a living by growing fruit, potatoes and chilies.His only options were to relocate to an urban area or begin again at a spot farther from the river.

“When it rains now, we’re afraid of what could happen.” Qamar said.

MCC took the one million dollars it received in donations for the flood relief, and, in cooperation with Church World Service, established immediate relief measures and long-term recovery strategies for families like Qamar’s.

Skyline of Atlanta at night
Skyline of Atlanta at night | Source

Wellspring Living in Atlanta, Georgia

According to Wellspring staff, their city of Atlanta, Georgia is one of the worst for sex trafficking in the United States. Wellspring addresses the problem, providing advocacy, safe houses, spiritual foundations, education, and trauma counseling for women and girls ages twelve to twenty-two who have been victims of DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking).

Go to: for an idea of the programs and services offered through Wellspring.


Wellspring's Thrift Shop Strikes Against Trafficking

Wellspring runs a trio of thrift shops that help make these miracles happen. Volunteers staff the stores daily but also offer their individual skills in other areas such as helping the girls decorate their cottages or offering academic tutoring.

Wellspring’s stores carry information about the sex trafficking and abuse that helps
raise community awareness. There are generally two reactions when people awaken to the issue: denial or enthusiasm to help fight.

Wellspring hopes to open five more stores in the Atlanta area in the next few years in order to meet their needs of more hurting women and girls.

Wellspring helps at risk and victimized girls like the one in this picture.
Wellspring helps at risk and victimized girls like the one in this picture. | Source

Wellspring Stories - Erin and Amanda

Erin’s story is typical of Wellspring clients. Abused and neglected by her parents,
she was forced into prostitution by an acquaintance of her mother’s when she was only twelve years old.

She came to Wellspring’s Victory program after being arrested. She slowly began emotional recovery, and found healing as she learned how to be a normal teenage girl. She established a goal to earn a degree in social work in order to help others with a past like her own.

Amanda was another young woman who found new life at Wellspring. Sexually abused by her babysitters, Amanda later stumbled into the hell of strip clubs, prostitution and drug addiction.

After coming to Wellspring, she hid behind nearly insurmountable emotional walls.
But it was the revelation of Jesus’ love for her, manifested through a powerful dream,
that finally opened the locked doors of Amanda’s heart. She began to realize that those who surrounded her longed to help her simply because they loved her. She went on to teach classes at Wellspring and participate in their prayer ministry.


Now Shop Till You Drop!

These types of thrift shops can be found in many towns and cities across the United States and Canada. Consult the internet or your local telephone directory for stores in your area. And don’t forget Goodwill and the Salvation Army. They have offered invaluable assistance to the disabled and homeless for many years.

So when you wonder what you can do to change the world, visit your local ministry
based thrift store with your donations or wallet in hand and enjoy!


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