Two churches in California are putting wheels under the thrift store idea.
Monika Grasley, a member of Gateway Community Christian Reformed Church in Merced, used a converted bus donated by a local radio station to create a secondhand store on wheels in order to bring goods and good news to those who are unable to come to it. “We don’t want to just give a hand-out, but build relationships,” said Grasley.
Working through Lifeline Community Development Corporation, volunteers from Grasley’s church and from Church of the Cross CRC in Delhi made this project a reality.
The bus travels to five or six communities, where it is staffed by local volunteers. Those struggling to put food on the table can find clothing for themselves and their children by purchasing items at low cost, trading in gently used clothing, or volunteering to mend or sort items.
“It brings dignity to people if they can do something in return,” said Grasley. Most people are delighted to be asked to unpack a bag or two. “Everyone, no matter how rich, has a need; and everyone, no matter how poor, has a gift. That is why we build and celebrate community,” Grasley said.
The Bus Boutique serves parolees, recovering drug addicts, single parents, and many other under-resourced people. As the staff builds relationships with repeat clients, they are delighted to share the gospel as well.
One mom, trying to finish her schooling in health services, was shocked to discover a large donation of scrubs on the day she came to volunteer. “I love how God does it,” she said.