Just a year after the Making Ends Meet Bargain Center opened, the Martinez thrift store is looking to expand its facility as donations from the community continue to pour in.
Proceeds made at the bargain center benefit Julie's House, a Columbia County nonprofit organization designed to shelter homeless and battered women and their children.
"People have been so generous, and this is how it's supposed to be," said Julie's House Executive Director Pat Bourke, who also runs the center.
Making Ends Meet opened in November 2008 and has since moved to several locations at La Petite Plaza off Washington Road, by CSRA Camperland. The business is now headquartered at Suite 1C in the shopping center and encompasses four units spanning a total of 2,800 square feet. The center could expand again as soon as February, Bourke added.
"This is fun," she said. "When you do something you love, it's not really work."
The store offers clothing, furniture, toys, baby products, household goods, jewelry and other merchandise. Churches, organizations and individuals continuously donate items for the store, Bourke said.
Many donations currently are being housed in storage warehouses until more space becomes available.
In a year's span, the bargain center has taken in about $52,000, with about half of those proceeds netted by Julie's House, Bourke said.
In honor of the store's one-year anniversary, customers can purchase a full bag of clothes and shoes for just $3 every business day in December. The store is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday.
While the business is open to the public, customers in need can receive free items after filling out paperwork.
"Not only does it serve the community as far as being able to purchase things at a nominal price," Bourke said, "we also are a resource center for the community."
Bourke said she's received about 100 individual referrals from several organizations and churches in Columbia and Richmond counties and helped about 40 families.
When speaking of the bargain center's mission, Julie's House Board President Tom Sorrells cited biblical passage Acts 4:32, which states that all believers "shared everything they had."
"That's our mission, to have those that have a need not to go without," he said. "It's been a hand-me-down store that has not been a hand-me-down for those in need.
"It's been a tremendous outreach of this community."
Shirley Helmick is one of about 15 volunteers who lend a hand at the center. She started volunteering about 10 months ago after browsing items in the store with her good friend, Patty Usry.
"The same day we came in to check it out, we decided to volunteer," she said.
Helmick said she views the other volunteers and customers like family.
"We've had people come in and say they love coming in here, because it just makes their day," she said. "That's good to hear. It makes you feel like you're really doing something for them."
For information, call Bourke at (706) 836-2781.
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