ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - East Texans are discovering much more than deep discounts and nick-knacks in the Athens Thrift Store.
The shop, which first opened in August 2010, has become a starting point for helping those in need.
Thrift store founder Drew Douglas says he was inspired to fill this void in the community after visiting a similar project on a church mission trip to Brenham, Texas.
"I put a great deal of personal prayer into the situation before I ever started. I felt like those prayers were certainly answered."
It's been a bigger blessing for Henderson County. 100 percent of the profit supports 19 charities and ministries in the area, including: ETMC Auxiliary, Henderson County Food Pantry, Meals of Kindness, Helping Hands Furniture Ministry and Clothes Closet, Ruby's Safe Haven, Family Peace Project, East Texas Crisis Center, The Disciples Clinic, Henderson County Young Life, Help Center, Meals on Wheels, Athens Soup Kitchen, The Rainbow Room, CASA of Trinity Valley, Lila Lane Outreach, First Methodist After School Program of Mabank, and Henderson County Drug Rehab.
Douglas estimates the store brings in about a thousand dollars in sales each day.
The location on East Tyler Street has expanded in the last five years by purchasing of four surrounding buildings. Most days, workers say there is a constant stream of customers hunting for hidden treasures.
Shoppers can find an outfit for every occasion, sets of dinnerware, even church pews. There's an extensive selection of books, toys, furniture, sporting goods, and home furnishings.
The bottom line isn't hard to miss -- serving the community through Christ.
"I don't want to be a goat. You know the scripture says, 'goats on one side and sheep on the other.' We have an obligation to do a number of things for our fellow man and this is only one of them."
Four dedicated employees have also found work through the store. Inventory manager Scott Hendrix says he's proof the store is changing lives.
"Probably the most remarkable thing I ever did in my life was turning my life over to Christ and knowing I have a place to come to and work and help others. For me, that's what it's all about."
Struggling with drug problems, Hendrix served more than four years in prison. Upon his release, he says Lila Lane Outreach was there to help, when no one else would.
Now, he's working full-time for the thrift shop, which supports that same ministry.
"I have a chance to give back, you know," Hendrix said. "Because I know back in the past, I have taken and taken and now I can give."
This circle of giving is spreading throughout Athens. In just five years, more than $250,000 in donations have allowed non-profits to continue their critical work.
Douglas, who is also a real estate broker, says he takes great pride in seeing the impact the business is having. "I can't accept credit, because I know where the credit goes. I think God's hands have been on it the whole time and I'm very proud to be used as a tool."
The thrift store also provides opportunities for job skills experience for special needs students from Athens Independent School District.
Volunteers and donations of household items are needed.
The shop's hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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