Giving Back at Atlanta Mission Thrift Stores

A visit to one of Atlanta Mission’s thrift stores is a unique experience. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is how sincerely happy the staff is to see you, and how helpful they are. You’ll likely receive a heartfelt, cheerful greeting, and if you’re having trouble finding what you need, someone will walk you right to what you’re looking for. It’s the kind of service you’d find in a high-end department store.

The Director of Thrift Ministry, Shana, says, “The team’s customer interactions aren’t scripted—it’s sincere caring. They go above and beyond to meet the customer’s needs. If you come in looking for a lawn mower and we don’t have one, somebody will probably take your name and call you the minute one comes in.”

It’s all about the people

Who shops at the stores? Families wanting to save money, the elderly, teens looking for designer items and enthusiastic bargain hunters from all walks of life flock to the five locations in Athens, Winder, Commerce, Gainesville and Marietta. Shana says, “These stores have been here for many years and people in the community know about us. Even if you’re a first-time customer, you’ll know who we are by the time you leave!”

In addition to paid employees, Atlanta Mission clients staying in nearby facilities often work at the store for a six-week assignment. This provides them a transition period to help them move back into the mainstream and teaches them to work as part of a team. “It’s a great growth opportunity,” Shana says, and it isn’t long before they learn how to interact positively with their co-workers and the customers. While some are reluctant at first, they leave with new-found confidence.

Atlanta Mission also works with other outreach programs who seek to place their clients in a transitional work environment. Shana tells a story of a young woman with no family who had lived in a shelter for over a year. Her experience working at the thrift store gave her hope and self-assurance, and she’s now able to take care of herself. She has her own apartment and has acquired her driver’s license and a car.

Receiving donations

There are several different ways donations get to the thrift stores: people can drop things off at the stores themselves; a truck can be scheduled to pick up heavy items like furniture; and lighter items like clothing can also be dropped off at any of Atlanta Mission’s residential facilities.

These donations are picked up at least once a week from the various drop locations—more often around the holidays—and distributed in rotation to the various stores. “Then the fun begins!” says Shana, as the crews sort through the items and select which ones are suitable for sale. “We get all kinds of stuff—sometimes we’re not even sure what some of it is—but we want to present our customers with the best.” That may require a little cleanup, but even if items turn out not to be saleable, nothing is simply thrown away.

Items that are still usable but don’t make the cut are donated overseas—single shoes, for example. Rather than throwing them away, these are sent to countries like India, where each shoe is matched to the closest mate of the same size, affording someone who had no shoes a serviceable pair.

Items that are too worn to sell or broken are recycled. Shana says, “Nothing ever goes to waste.”

Spreading the good around

Atlanta Mission’s thrift stores are a win for everybody: the donors, who get rid of unwanted items and are able to take a tax deduction; clients and referrals working in the stores who are in the process of transitioning back to the working world; other charitable agencies, who receive aid in the form of donated goods; and, of course, thrift store customers.

Low prices on quality items allow people to acquire essentials, things they would not be able to afford at full retail prices. Local churches and community agencies also provide Atlanta Mission thrift store clothing vouchers, so people in need are able to get necessities at no cost.

And at the end of the day, the proceeds of the stores go back into Atlanta Mission services. “Everything we sell in these stores gives so much,” Shana says.

Ministry

That’s not all, however. A unique aspect of the thrift stores is that each one serves as a ministry center in the community in which it’s located. Each store has a box where people can put in requests for special prayers, and every day at 11:00 am, the staff, clients, and customers pray together if they wish. Many come back regularly for the prayer circle even if they don’t intend to shop. It’s a supportive, loving experience, and the ministry provides a family-like atmosphere for all comers, new and old.

What goes around

Shana notes that Atlanta Mission is “run by people who have a heart for the Lord,” and she sees that in every part of her thrift store experience. She’s grown as a person in this atmosphere of God, and finds her nine years there to have been both uplifting and humbling.

“We all really care about people,” she says, “and one thing I’ve learned is that anybody can end up not having hope and being broken.”

Shana says the stores have made a significant difference in her own life, providing her with unexpected insights into herself. Her long-term goal is now to help others, and she guides herself with these questions: “How can I make a difference? How can I help people succeed?”

So far, Atlanta Mission’s Thrift Ministry and Shana seem to be doing just that.

 

Atlanta Mission’s Faithful Friend Donors

The Atlanta Mission's Faithful Friend programThanks to the generosity of a longtime Atlanta Mission donor, we have the special opportunity for your first monthly gift to be tripled, which means if you sign up to be a monthly donor, or Faithful Friend as we call this loyal group of donors, your gift will triple in impact. One meal will become three, one hot shower will become three hot showers, one night of shelter and safety will in fact provide three.

Becoming a Faithful Friend helps provide a level of stability to our residents that they may not have experienced before. By providing consistency of place, relationship, and provision, personal transformation is made possible.

What consistent services will your generous donation provide? Shelter: a bed, a shower, comfort and safety. Healthy food, community, and the ability to share a meal and conversation with others. Clothing: not just to protect against the elements, but clothes that bolster self-esteem and are appropriate for work. Counseling and a supportive spiritual community to help heal the soul and grow in faith. Life skills classes and job training to provide personal growth in preparation for healthy work and community relationships.

It’s easy to sign up: Simply go to the Faithful Friends monthly donor page and select an amount for your pledge each month. Your gift will be automatically deducted from the account of your choice, creating an easy, consistent way to donate that provides the help someone needs to get back on their feet and move toward a better future.

You’ll also receive updates on the impact your generous gift has made on the people you’ve helped.

Become a Faithful Friend

Learn what it means to be a Faithful Friend

Faithful Friends donations provide vital services

It’s surprising how powerful an ongoing friendship with someone you haven’t met can be. The Atlanta Mission’s Faithful Friends program allows monthly donors to help more than 1,000 people of all ages every day, providing shelter and safety, food, educational services, career development and counseling to get residents back on their feet.

If you donate now, the Atlanta Mission will help your gift go even further. When you become a monthly contributor, your first monthly gift will be tripled by an anonymous donor—up to $75,000! You will provide critically needed support to those experiencing homelessness throughout the year, and you’ll receive periodic updates on the lives transformed by your generosity.

For about the cost of a week of morning lattes, you can provide 10 full meals a month to hungry adults and kids or other essential services—and three times that for the first month with matching. Your consistent, generous gift will also provide a safe place to sleep, a shower, clean clothes—basics we so often take for granted—and these vital services will also be increased threefold the first month of your donation.

By automating and spreading your giving out over the course of the year, you provide everything a person needs to get back on their feet, find a fresh start and have hope for the future.

How can you triple your impact? Go to our Faithful Friends page and sign up to be a monthly donor. For your convenience, you may have your tax-deductible donation automatically processed from your selected bank account or card every month. Sign up to contribute $10 a month or more, and you’ll receive a welcome kit, including an Atlanta Mission tumbler.

Hear how your giving has changed the lives of our friends in their own words:

“From your generosity each month, you have walked alongside me and lifted me up.”

“You’ve given me the opportunity for my life to be transformed.”

“Because of your friendship, I have hope.”

But our Faithful Friends are doing much more than just contributing to the physical needs of Mission residents: they’re providing hope, a chance at personal and spiritual transformation, an education and a future.

How else can you provide so much for so little?

A famous man once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Make a richer life for yourself and give someone else a fresh start on theirs by becoming a Faithful Friend today.