Thrift Store Outreach

by Karen Drechsel

Faithful volunteer, Becca Harlan straightens and puts out merchandise with a cheerful smile.
The store's nook includes seating for about four people and offers free literature on the shelf below the television, which plays Glorystar satellite programming.

BONNERS FERRY, Idaho, March 24, 2015 - If you haven't been in the Bonners Ferry (Idaho) Adventist Community Thrift Store recently, you may not know about the latest development. A Glorystar satellite system has been installed to provide quality Christian TV viewing for customers.

The thrift store board is passionate about outreach and about being of service to the community. The store not only provides quality products for shoppers at an affordable price and serves as a center to those who need assistance (be it for a burned-out family, a mother needing a gas voucher to take her child to a doctor's appointment, or someone who is behind on the electric bill) but also to those burned out on life, who are struggling to find answers and who need to know the Lord.

In an effort to promote dialogue and to let customers know what the Adventist Church believes, a member of the board volunteered to purchase the Glorystar system to provide more than 70 channels like 3ABN (Three Angels Broadcasting Network) and the Hope Channel. The board authorized the purchase of a flat-screen television, and an Adventist member from Priest River, Idaho, did the installation. Donated furniture completed the nook where people can come and relax while watching Adventist TV shows and learn more about the church.

The Community Thrift Store has been in operation since 1987 and has been in its present building since 2000. The store gives out about 50,000 pieces of free literature a year, including a monthly Signs of the Times magazine, children's Sabbath School papers, GLOW (Giving Light to Our World) tracts, and paperback books by Ellen White (Great Controversy, Steps to Christ, Desire of Ages, Ministry of Healing and many more).

The store employs three full-time and three part-time workers. Volunteers help and are appreciated too. Donations often slow as winter weather hangs on, but the store usually sees an increase in spring and summer.

The Community Thrift Store is now owned free and clear with no outstanding loan balance. This makes it possible for proceeds to support the church school each month, with any surplus supporting humanitarian work. The board works with local agencies to assist those in need. Victim Services, Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Community Action Partnership, the Ministerial Association and various fire departments are some of the agencies who refer people to the store.  

The police department recently commended the store on doing a good work and revealed that they are watching to see that people don't take the donations left in front of the store over Sabbath. Some organizations have given donations in the amount of hundreds of dollars because of the assistance program for the community. 

At the end of January, a young man came in needing assistance with rent, but the assistance funds for the month were used up. However, the manager, Pam Reoch, was able to call in a pledge to the rental office to be paid the first week of February to help him out. That Sabbath at church, a freewill offering for the poor was taken up at the door after the communion service. The money received in the offering was almost the exact amount needed to cover the assistance given. God is leading and can supply our needs when we choose to help others.

Those involved in this project feel that the store is the Lord's and He is in control; they just work for Him. Many times they see His hand in their relationships and dealings with the community. The hope for the new nook is that, as a more central location, it can also be available in the evenings for small groups (board meetings, prayer meeting) and also for community programs to show that local members care and to spread the good news of Christ's love and His soon coming. Those involved with this outreach ask for prayers for the witness of the Community Thrift Store.