Helping hands need a helping hand

PERU - The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store has been in operation for more than 30 years, and now, the store is starting to need a little more room.

Store coordinator Jane Woods said the thrift store is outgrowing its space adjacent to the St. Augustine's Parish Center on Main Street. The small building that houses men's, women's and children's clothing is becoming more and more cramped as weeks go by and donations come in, said Woods.

"Our donations are unbelievable. We can't keep up with the sorting," said Woods.

When the national economy began to see signs of trouble last year, the thrift store, which had already been seeing a steady number of customers each week, grew exponentially.

"We see about 80 to 115 people a week," said Woods. "We used to make $50 to $60 a week. Now, we average $350 week. And, when you're talking bags selling for $3 to $6, that's a lot of clothes that go through here."

That means even more money for the outreach efforts of St. Augustine's Church, which oversees operation of the store, said Woods. The money raised helps provide for people in need for a variety of reasons such as those who have lost their home to fire or those who suddenly find themselves without employment.

"We really do help a lot of people," said Woods.

The church's generosity is parallel with the generosity seen by the store, said Woods. On an average day, there are several bags of donations brought to the drop-off box outside the thrift store. The bags are then thoroughly examined and sorted by the store's more than 20 volunteers and prepared to be sold to customers.

"People have been bringing in donations that are better quality clothing," said volunteer Sue Williams.

"Sometimes we even get brand-new donations," added Glenda Herforth. "That's nice."

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