Shop offers a second chance
by Rory Doyle
Dec 26, 2012 | 1578 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jo Donna Watson, director of the Rainbow Emergency Shelter in Cleveland, has been an integral leader in opening the Second Chance Thrift Store.
Jo Donna Watson, director of the Rainbow Emergency Shelter in Cleveland, has been an integral leader in opening the Second Chance Thrift Store.
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The Bolivar County Community Action Agency, Inc. and the Rainbow Emergency Shelter of Cleveland have successfully opened the doors to a project that has been a longtime vision.

Second Chance Thrift Store officially opened Dec. 10 and will go a long way in assisting clients from both the shelter and the Community Action system.

After eight years of planning, shelter director Jo Donna Watson is thrilled to see the mission come to fruition.

"We are all very relieved and excited," said Watson. "All the money we make from the store will go right back to the shelter and clients — to pay for doctors, medicine, shelter operating costs, Community Action programs and other things we can't normally provide because of grant restrictions."

The store runs strictly on communal donations that are resold at reasonable prices. A portion of the sales will also help pay for facility's rent and utility bills.

Watson encouraged those looking to donate to drop items off on location at 410 S. First St.

Desired items include clothing and footwear, household goods, furniture, toys and electronics.

In some situations, the staff will pick up donations from peoples' houses but only by appointment.

"We liked the name Second Chance because our clients get a second chance in life and so do the clothes," added Watson.

The store also gives shelter clients a chance to develop professional skills, as all live-in clients are required to work a certain amount of volunteer hours helping at the store.

"We've had a good buy in from the clients about working here," said Watson. "They're learning job skills — from folding and organizing clothes, setting up a store and helping customers."

Another community benefit of the store is that donors can write off their donations on taxes.

"As far as I know, we are the only real thrift store in town where you can write off your donations. All the others are consignment shops," said Watson.

Watson noted that shelter clients have the opportunity to keep donations when they first arrive — if they are items the clients have a need for. The rest of the donations are stocked and sold.

The turnout of customers has been busy the first couple weeks and there are many more items in storage that will find their way to the shelves.

"I'm really happy the community has been so supportive thus far," said Watson. "The idea for the store came from the past executive director Billy Joe McCain and our new executive director Elnora Littleton.

"She told us to find a way to make it happen, and with her support, we've done a good job at that. And none of this would have been possible without all the help from our transitional and emergency shelter staff."

Involving the clients and the community with Second Chance Thrift Store fits right in with the organization's mission — Helping People. Changing Lives.

Hours for the store are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.–noon on Saturdays.