On Saturday, we were chosen to participate in UAH’s “Helping Hands Day” and had the privilege of having the Ladies Basketball Team come and sort clothes and linens. They worked really hard and made a big dent in our donation piles. We love this kind of help, and would love to talk to you about YOUR group serving in this way, so give us a call!
This was donated to our store recently (it is already sold, sorry!) and I thought it was a really cute project that just about anyone could make. Someone just took a large framed canvas, like you would buy to paint on, and cut out lots of scrapbook papers with positive sayings and glued them on. I was thinking that this would be a fun craft project for a girls sleepover! Or just to do on a rainy day at home with the kiddos. It would look really cute on the wall of a kids room. And the possibilities are endless!
Yesterday at the store, one of the guys who was asked to leave the program a while back, came in and told me he needed some clothes. His jeans were literally falling off his body because he had lost so much weight. He is using again and looked horrible. I told him to get what he needed and when he did, he came back to talk for a minute.
Once wealthy, now homeless. Once employed, now jobless. Once thinking straight, now being overtaken by all sorts of sinful temptations. And I felt sick to my stomach. And I realize it’s because I love this guy. We have had alot of fun times at the store. We have gone to church together. I’ve met some of his family. I have a pet name for him. And I had to fight the urge to give him money when he told me he has $1.20 in his pocket because you can’t give money to someone who is using. I had to fight the urge to invite him to stay at my house because I’m a single mom and that is out of the question. I wanted to give him some advice, but I have none to give. I wanted to do something more than give him a pair of jeans, but there is nothing I could do except listen, give him a hug and pray for him.
After he left, I talked to some of the other guys in the program and some of the employees about how sad the encounter had made me (us). “That’s the reality” they shrugged, “It happens to people every day”. “It’s just hard to stay sober” were the kinds of things they told me.
And I guess that’s just it…. I don’t see the reality very much. I meet these guys after they have made the decision to get help. I know them sober. I hear their stories, sure enough. I know they have had a rough time… homelessness, prison, losing their families, heart-breaking stories…. but at the time when they enter my life, they are sober, on the right track, re-building their lives and they are living at the program where they have beds and showers and food and drug tests and counseling. Most of the time, when we give them clothes, it’s because they have gained weight now that they are taking care of themselves. I see who they really are and I usually come to love them. And I always expect them to succeed and move on to a drug-free, productive life.
I do NOT like to see them fail. I do not like to stand face-to-face with them when they have been lured back to needles and bottles and powders and pills and sin and their clothes are falling off. I do not like to hear them tell me they are going to sleep at a homeless shelter that night until they “figure something out”. And the scripture rang through my mind while I looked at my friend, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy“. It’s absolutely the truth.
It’s really hard. And I’m just their friend. I can’t imagine the pain of their mothers and father, sisters, brothers, wives….. I hope I never know that kind of pain.
But there is more to the scripture and it is also absolutely true…. that Jesus came “that they may have life and have it to the full“. And so, I guess, I continue to do the thing that God has given me to do right now- to sell one man’s trash to another who thinks it’s a treasure…. and know that every sale we make helps fund a ministry that leads people to find Jesus, the Way….. the only One who really knows what any of us needs or really has any answers that will help us.
During one of the (many) recent rainy days, our pump in the alley needed a little (immediate) attention and even though this does NOT fall under his job description, Bob was
happy willing to go out into the rain and take care of the problem. He didn’t want to get his (size 11) shoes and socks wet and so I hurried to the back to look for something he could wear temporarily and found…… on the top of the pile of shoes….. a pair of size 11 water shoes! Really?! I love working in a thrift store! Bob was a good sport to pose for this picture of him in the water shoes, pants rolled up, hoody on, heading out the door.
The shoes are being dried out and will be available for purchase soon if you are looking for a pair!
Meet John, a valued and loyal volunteer who comes to the store specifically to test and fix things. John’s connection to the store is through Dave, who he knows from their involvement in Destination Imagination. Sometimes a little imagination goes a long way at the thrift store, as was evidenced recently when I walked by the Electronics Department and noticed him carrying a plastic spoon with some liquid on it. Turns out, he needed a little oil for a repair and so…. he took a plastic spoon out to his car and syphoned a little off the engine.
I like people with that kind of ingenuity and “can-do” attitude, so he got his picture taken and a whole blog post dedicated to him! If we had a “Volunteer of the Month” program, he would be it.
We recently had a group from the Connect program with Leadership Huntsville/Madison County come to our store to volunteer for a couple hours and learn about a non-profit agency and how they could become more involved in the community. They were a tremendous help to us in sorting clothes and performing various other jobs. And we got to talk some with them, share about the stores and about the program at The Way. They seemed to be particularly interested in hearing from Bob, who is a resident of the program, as he shared his story and what the program and God have done in his life. I was proud of Bob for speaking to the group since he claims he is not comfortable speaking in front of people. He even asked the group if he could lead a prayer before they left. I’m happy to see this growth in him.
Thank you for coming and spending the afternoon with us!
1 Peter 4:10
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
If you have any doubt whether God wants you to serve others, He does. Jesus was all about serving people and the Bible is full of stories, encouragement and commands about how we should put others above ourselves, “go the second mile”, feed the poor, give a cup of water to the thirsty, practice hospitality, visit prisoners, take care of orphans and widows and much more. Practicing these things pleases God and blesses the receiver… but it also blesses the giver. My personal experience has shown me that it simply feels good to do something nice for someone else. I actually believe (and have no bible verse to back this up- it’s purely my own opinion) that the “warm fuzzy” feeling you get when you do something selfless is a tangible manifestation of God’s pleasure. And it helps with all sorts of “ailments”:
-A sense of entitlement
So when Friday nights roll around and I don’t feel like baking cookies or Saturday mornings dawn way too early and I don’t feel like getting up, I do it anyway because I know it’s good for me.
And in addition to helping others, I get to spend time outside of work getting to know some of the guys from the program.
The possibilities for service are endless…. look for ways to serve. And if you need a suggestion of where to start, we are in need of some good, consistent volunteers here at the Saving Way stores…. give us a call today!