What are the first words that come to your mind when I say “thrift store”? Do any of these make the list: discounts, charity, used, donations, college house furnishings, white elephant gift?
What if I told you that the word I think of is opportunity? That may come as a surprise to you, but to us, the thrift stores offer a world of possibility. At The Salvation Army, our thrift stores, also known as “Family Stores”, provide us with incredible opportunities in our community.
- They are a major source of funding for our free Alcohol and Addiction Recovery Program.
- They provide employment for individuals and families in need of work.
- They enable low-income families to own needed things like couches, tables, clothing, beds, and dishes that might not otherwise be affordable.
- We give out store vouchers to people in need. That means they get to shop for free!!
These are all incredible ways that we are able to serve NW Arkansas through your donations at our stores. But I don’t just want to give you the facts; I would like to tell you a story.
That story is Ivan.
He is a kind, dynamic, fun-loving, hard-working employee at our Fayetteville Thrift Store. He greets everyone with a smile and “Hello!” and makes you feel like a million bucks!! Not a day goes by without Ivan’s cheerful heart and lovable spirit brightening the day of our customers.
But this hasn’t always been Ivan’s story.
Let him share with you how his life has been transformed from the darkness of addiction to the light of life and forgiveness through Jesus with the help of The Salvation Army.
“I had just recently been out of jail. I was homeless, cause I was a bad alcoholic. And I somehow found my way over to the Springdale Thrift Store thinking it was the shelter. They referred me over here to the shelter in Fayetteville.
They made sure I sobered up so that I could start staying in the shelter, and they helped me get everything I needed to get into the [Alcohol and Addiction Recovery] Program.
I had lost everything. I didn’t have anywhere to go.
I didn’t have a penny to my name. Literally, I had spent all my money drinking. I gave away everything I owned for booze, [and soon] I was out on the streets homeless. I had been in and out of recovery programs before, but this time, they were so good to me I couldn’t leave.
I was home. And I am too old to not be having a home. For once in my life, it stuck, and I graduated from the program in October of 2013.
I was blessed and got hired by them right when I got out. It was a cashier job [at the Fayetteville Thrift Store]. I’ve been here ever since!”
“Now, I have my own apartment. And I bought everything in my apartment, except for my microwave, at The Salvation Army Store. I mean, living room, bedroom, kitchen, it’s all Salvation Army stuff. I’ve spent all my money back here. And I was able to pay for it all because of my job here. My microwave would have been from here too but my old one went out on the weekend when we were closed, so I went out and bought an emergency one!
They’ve been really good to me. They are a family to me. I don’t know why or how, but I have been fortunate that way. It’s been a blessing.
I lost a lot; I was way out there. But now, I’ve gained a lot back.
My daughter is even getting ready to come visit me. But it has all been because of The Salvation Army. I give everything I have, 100% for The Salvation Army. I love it here!”
Is the word Opportunity fitting to describe our stores?
“Oh yah, for sure! We do a lot of community vouchers for the homeless. A family came in the other day with one. Their daughter pointed at something and was like, ‘Can I really get that? Can I really?’ It was a coat that she needed. And it was free for them. Sometimes I will go tell my boss, ‘That last voucher, it really hit my heart. It felt good to do that.’ And to know that I was in that boat too, but now by the grace of God, I’m not. It’s a good feeling.”
I love the thrift store! Can you tell!?
Now I get to be a part of giving back to the community!
What would you say to the community about The Salvation Army?
Contribute as much as you can. Everything that comes in here goes back to the community to help the hungry and the homeless. I leave here feeling so blessed, but I mean, I was there.
Now isn’t that a story worth telling and celebrating?!
We have the privilege of meeting the Ivan’s of our community everyday. Men and women who have hit hard times and simply need someone to walk alongside them and give them a hand up. Please consider donating to our stores: it is truly changing lives. You can also donate online to The Salvation Army of NW Arkansas here.
Family Store Fun Facts:
• .86 cents of every dollar made in the stores goes directly towards our programs
• We have 4 stores in NWA: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Siloam Springs
• Last week, we got in 60 year-old vintage board game classics (Clue, Life, Monopoly) valued at $100 each on Ebay!
Thrift Store Locations
1645 S. West Ave. Fayetteville
329 Holcomb St Springdale
2223 W. Walnut St. Rogers
1971 Hwy. 421 E Siloam Springs