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Lost things: The Heart & Hand Thrift Center story

BETHANY—There’s nothing quite like a good treasure hunt through a thrift store. Whether someone is just looking for a new crystal candy bowl or eagerly searching for the last element of their Fall Festival costume, thrift stores seem to be such a treasure trove.

Marget Brown volunteers at Heart & Hand and enjoys organizing the tableware.

Antique hunters and quiet browsers alike are guaranteed to find more than a good steal when entering Heart & Hand Thrift Center on Council Road and N.W. 23rd Street. Amid the stacks of old books and rows of well-kept furniture, there is an undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit.

Heart & Hand Thrift Center began as an initiative of Olivet, First members hoping to find financial support for another ministry that educates, supports and mobilizes young single moms. The idea of a thrift store was presented and accepted almost 15 years ago in 2003. An old grocery store was purchased and quickly became filled with donations to be cleaned and sold to aid the ministry. Thus Heart & Hand was launched.

Since its establishment, Heart & Hand has given 100 percent of its profits to aiding the single moms ministry at Olivet, First. Apart from that, the store has empowered and witnessed to every person involved with the store itself. Many employees and volunteers have found the thrift center to be a home away from home and even a mission field for some.

John Boyd, or “Uncle Johnny,” as coworkers and shoppers know him, sees his ability to volunteer as a gift from God.

“All kinds of people come in here,” Boyd said. “Sometimes they need a new sofa, but sometimes they need Jesus.” He recalled a time he prayed with a mother of a wayward child who now knows and loves the Lord. Or another time when he prayed with a pastor who left the ministry but is now easing back in with courage.

Heart & Hand lead team from left, Brenda Cover, Greg Waddell, Bob Waddell, Bob Bell, with Karen Waddell making an appearance on Brenda’s phone;

“I pray every morning for the Lord to bring me someone to talk to about Him,” Boyd said at his worktable in the back of the thrift center.

Marget Brooks, another Heart & Hand volunteer, sees the impact of the thrift center firsthand. After losing her husband several months ago, Brooks finds comfort and purpose when working at the store.

“I love it,” Brooks said. “You get to know the people. You start to piece together when a customer collects things, like cuff links or thimbles. When we get a donation, we begin collecting those items for the customer for when they come back.”

Brooks recalls times she too had a chance to connect with shoppers, be it children in the book section or widows like herself who wanted to chat.

In all the years, there were only a handful of roadblocks, as God graciously paved the way of success for this ministry. Once, in a time of rough weather, the roof of the Heart & Hand donation truck was ripped off. Efforts are still being made to afford repairs of the vehicle. Other challenges include donation or volunteer shortages. Despite these obstacles, the thrift center always manages to give generously to those who need it.

John Boyd, or “Uncle Johnny”, points to heaven to give God the glory for the interactions he has had since volunteering at Heart & Hand

One such time was one morning when executive director, Bob Waddell, was opening up the store and the children’s day care next door was beginning their morning walk. As the dozens of toddlers marched by the storefront, Waddell fetched an armful of stuffed animals and passed them out as a gift for each child. Waddell saw the empty shelf where the stuffed animals once sat, and wondered how God would provide more to fill it back up. That very afternoon a donation was called in for a truckload of stuffed animals.

Waddell and many others have seen the provision and blessing of God in this thrift center. They each strive to make Heart & Hand a safe, evangelistic ministry that meets the needs of those hurting. Several employees, volunteers and managers have been known to even personally cover the cost of something to help a person in need.

A thrift store is often a place where unwanted or lost things show up. It seems, at Heart & Hand Thrift Center, those lost things are not things at all, but lost people. Every day presents a new opportunity to help those lost people be found by the love of God in an open and caring place. Heart & Hand Thrift Center is that place.

For any inquiries or donations of items, call Greg Waddell, manager, or Bob Bell, office manager, at 405/470-0431.

Author: Hannah Hanzel

View more articles by Hannah Hanzel.

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