Supporting the mission

Volunteers and community support are the key components of Save & Serve Thrift Shop

By KELLEY MOHR Staff Writer Published:

In serving local customers through incredible savings, Save & Serve Thrift Shop lives up to its name.

"We're local people helping local people," said Save & Serve Co-Manager Eric Raber. "Save & Serve is involved with a good work that is supported by the community, in donors, volunteers and shoppers. What is seen is the shop; What is unseen and not so obvious are quite a number of other things."

Save & Serve Thrift Shop is a non-profit resale shop, part of the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop Network of more than 100 independently-governed stores across the U.S. and Canada. Located at the heart of Amish Country, the store is governed locally by Amish and Mennonites with a mission to meet basic human needs in the name of Christ, both locally and globally.

"Save & Serve began in 1975 as the vision of people who had been in service with MCC. They came back from that experience with a will to serve the local community by gathering items that were not needed in the community, making those items available to local shoppers," explained Raber.

Now, Save & Serve Thrift Shop offers shoppers a huge and ever-changing selection of vintage items and collectibles, clothing and housewares, furniture, books, toys and more.

"The hands and feet of Save & Serve are our volunteers," said Raber. "We average 50 volunteers a day working in different areas to make a place like this function well. In a week's time, that's 250 volunteers -- and those volunteers are here making a difference."

These volunteers do everything from receive, sort, clean, evaluate and price donations, restocking shelves and displaying items, manning the cash register and helping customers.

"Part of our goal is to provide a welcoming place -- attractively displayed and friendly environment, where shoppers can relax, visit with cashiers and retail staff," said Raber. "That is all part of providing a place to shop locally that benefits your budget."

If volunteers are the hands and feet of the operation, the donors are the backbone, said Raber.

"Without broad community support, we wouldn't be here. We are very fortunate to have wonderful community support for the mission that is happening here at Save & Serve," he said. "To care for our donors, after being in the new location for six years we are adding a drive-through canopy in our donation area so that donors and volunteers will be able to donate and receive items in any weather."

The canopy is in appreciation to the faithful donors who have delivered items in even the roughest of weather.

"We've been an all-season store, now we can be an all-weather store. With snow, rain or ice we can receive donations pretty easily. This is a way to say thank you," said Raber.

As one of the most important parts of the store's mission, Save & Serve provides a service to the community by reselling items at reasonable prices and to reuse, recycle and save items so that less of the earth's resources are used, said Raber.

"Why are we here? We provide a place where people can donate merchandise that they no longer need, extending the life of merchandise, both supporting our mission and also being good for the environment," said Raber.

Save & Serve is committed to reducing post-consumer waste in an effort to preserve the earth for future generations. To do so, the store recycles through each of its processing procedures, from using shopping bags to recycling paper waste -- all done in keeping with a mission to meet human need in the name of Christ.

"We also provide a place to shop for items that are carefully selected as clean, whole items with good value," said Raber.

In fact, customers can browse a selection of 2,000 new items each day.

To compile such an array of offerings, Save & Serve accepts and appreciates donations of clean items in good repair and prefers donations during store hours at the store's easy in-and-out drive-through donation area.

Accepted items include: Collectibles and antiques, clothing, housewares, books and music, hardware, toys, linens, furniture and small appliances. Save & Serve does not accept baby items that do not meet safety standards, major appliances, hazardous materials. Tax donations receipts are available upon request.

In addition to the treasures available on the shelves, Save & Serve Thrift Shop also offers unique and antique items in the silent auction display. Shoppers may request a bidder number for the chance to bid on items of interest. Items stay in play as long as bids are being made, but when five days pass without a bid, the high bidder wins the item. Updates can be found on the Save & Serve Facebook page.

"We are serving locally by providing donated merchandise at a reduced price. In a sense, all of our sales are dedicated to that cause," said Raber. This offers continuous budget savings to Holmes County residents, savings that extend to many parts of people's lives.

For example, one local bed & breakfast was able to furnish the venue almost entirely from Save & Serve's extensive merchandise. Raber knows of a friend whose home was beautifully furnished in the same manner. Another shopper was able to spend more time at home with her kids, rather than work full-time, due to the savings found at Save & Serve.

Save & Serve also provides a place to volunteer.

"We're providing a place to give," said Raber, noting that many people can't travel or spend weeks volunteering, but they can commit to one day a week. "Part of our mission is to provide place for people in the community to volunteer."

For example, 25 area churches are involved in a monthly cashier rotation schedule and scholarship recipients often volunteer at the store, as do those assigned community service due to legal violation and juvenile and adult probation.

Besides offering a place to donate, shop and volunteer, Save & Serve also helps distressed members of the community. Aside from making merchandise available at a low cost, Save & Serve contributes gift cards to every family helped by Share-A-Christmas, assists the Holmes County Ministerial Association in providing items to families in financial need and works with the Salvation Army and local churches.

Save & Serve also works with area organizations in doing good, for example, donating eye glasses to the Lions Club and giving medical supplies to an Orrville organization, providing blankets, winter coats and boots to a homeless ministry in Ashland and assisting Mountain Vision in West Virginia.

Save & Serve is also a work placement center for Holmes County Job & Family Services and provides job training and re-entry for Mature Services, as well as serving as a work readiness assessment site for the Holmes County Training Center.

In addition to serving locally, Save & Serve raises funds to support the mission of the MCC, a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches. This includes sharing God's love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice in countries across the world, including the Serving With Appalachian People program.

Save & Serve Thrift Shop is located at 1108 S. Washington St., Millersburg 44654. For more information, go to www.saveandserve.org. Hours are Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and Thursday 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Reporter Kelley Mohr can be reached at 330-674-5676 or kmohr@the-daily-record.com.

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