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Thrift store raises funds for cancer patients

Store benefits children's cancer fund

Posted: January 23, 2013 - 12:04am  |  Updated: January 23, 2013 - 8:37am
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Wilma Butler (left), a volunteer at Nana Banana's Bargains, and owner Shirley Helmick stand in front of the store on Belair Road. All profits from the store go to a children's cancer fund.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Wilma Butler (left), a volunteer at Nana Banana's Bargains, and owner Shirley Helmick stand in front of the store on Belair Road. All profits from the store go to a children's cancer fund.


Shirley Helmick has long enjoyed yard sales and bargains, so when the opportunity to open her own thrift store came to fruition she jumped at the chance.

Now, just more than a year after opening her Nana-Banana’s Bargains/Thrift Store on South Belair Road in Martinez, Helmick is humbled by the returning customers who keep her store in business.

Helmick’s customers return – and spread the word of her store – for a number of reasons.

“She has a nice, clean store and we always find wonderful things here,” said Vickie Ogden, a frequent customer. “And because of what she does for the kids.”

The “kids” that Ogden is referring to are the cancer patients who are the beneficiaries of Helmick’s profits. Over the past year, Nana-Banana’s has given more than $1,600 to childhood cancer organizations, including the Press On Fund and the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology unit at Georgia Health Sciences.

“My daughter went to school with some girls whose children were diagnosed with neuroblastoma,” said Helmick. “I lost both my father and mother to cancer. When I hear ‘cancer,’ it just scares me to death and when it’s kids, it just breaks my heart.”

Helmick has made it her mission to donate all profits – after expenses such as her lease and power bill – to childhood cancer organizations. The store is operated solely by volunteers and posts its mission statement for all who walk through its doors.

“We want to help out our community by offering great items at great prices in order to ultimately help out awesome children who are fighting childhood cancer,” said Helmick, who made a $900 donation to Georgia Health Sciences last month. “We do this by operating solely on donations and volunteers. We pray that the Lord blesses us so that we can, in return, bless others.”

Volunteer Wilma Butler said she firmly believes that God brought her to Nana-Banana’s.

“The cause is so great,” said Butler, who along with Connie Houmiel, Patty Stewart and Cindy Helmick, volunteers at the store, sorting, pricing and stocking donations.

“I couldn’t do this without our volunteers,” said Helmick.

When Helmick fell in the store last summer, Houmiel and Butler were there to come to her aid. In her absence and following surgery, the volunteers at Nana-Banana’s Bargains kept the store running.

“I don’t know what I’d have done without them,” said Helmick.

“We’re family,” added Butler. “We are dedicated to the store and to each other.”

The volunteers at Nana-Banana’s have been there since the store opened. Most started within a few months of the grand opening and call it a place where they feel like they are doing good.

“We don’t have a lot of profits, but we have fun,” said Helmick. “I just want to help kids as much as I can and stay here as long as I can.”



The thrift store is open Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

It is at 337-E South Belair Road, Martinez. Visit their Facebook page at Nana-Banana’s Bargains

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Comments (3)


What a great initiative,

What a great initiative, volunteers can really make a difference for children diagnosed with cancer. The Houston Northwest Medical center is one of the best health care facilities for diagnosing breast cancer in women. Early detection will prevent the recessive gene to pass on to the children, sparing them of painful chemotherapy sessions.


This might be just a thrift

This might be just a thrift store, but people seem to find really nice clothes here, especially since they know that if they buy something, their money will help cancer patients. Although this is for a good cause, the Van Heusen dress shirts are a better choice if you want to renew your office wardrobe. Your look must be flawless and professional.



It is good thing that the thrift store is raising funds to help the cancer patients out there. It is very good thing that they are doing and I extend all my support to these people. Keep up the good work guys. sell miles


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