After seven years in operation, the Orphan Aid Thrift Store in Burnaby, British Columbia, has raised over half a million dollars for an orphanage and a school in Zambia that celebrated the graduation of its first class of grade 12 students.
The secondhand store was founded by members of New Westminster (British Columbia) Christian Reformed Church and Nelson Avenue Community CRC in Burnaby. Volunteers include members from these two churches as well as Fleetwood CRC in nearby Surrey, in addition to helpers from other churches and the community.
The funds are channeled through Seeds of Hope Children’s Ministry, a charity that operates orphanages and schools in several countries specifically for children affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. One of those is Grace Academy in Ndola, Zambia, the only such boarding school in the world.
Elsie Takasaki of Nelson Avenue CRC explained that the academy supported by the store provides children with a home and education as well as medical, emotional, and spiritual care. “We are a small store that God is using in a big way,” she said.
“We are so appreciative of the Orphan Aid Thrift Store and all the volunteers who spend countless hours giving their time at the store,” said Mary-Ellen Schulte from Seeds of Hope. “We could not do all this [work] without their help!”
Volunteers Gerry and Shirlene Gerke from New Westminster CRC feel blessed to be part of this ministry. “We feel privileged for the luxury of spare time and some skills that we bring to the store, while simultaneously giving the community an avenue for recycling their items,” they said. “Orphan Aid is a great testament as to what ‘many hands can do.’”
“We are blessed to be able to help provide the necessities for these orphans,” agreed fellow volunteer Joanne Boessenkool, also of New Westminster CRC. “Above all we thank God that they learn about him in their home and school in Zambia."