We found God in used clothes!
Phew! What a long yet rewarding day. My assignment today involved working with the relational crew at the City Rescue Mission (CRM) and their thrift store. At this site, they collect donations from local people in the community and sell this to go towards the funds for their mission. Upon walking into the shop, I was amazed by the sheer size of this operation. Nobody in my team expected for this thrift store to be so massive. There we met Rick, the store manager. He gave us a general overview of the goals of this location and told us a little bit about himself. He had served and retired from the Navy. For the past six years, he has been working at this thrift shop with the hopes of spreading the love of Jesus through all that passed through the shop. Rick gave us a quick tour of the storefront then led us to where we would be working for the day, the warehouse section. Our task: to sort bags of incoming items and clothing into bins. At first this didn’t seem too bad then quickly escalated. Soon enough, it became a frenzy of clothes being thrown about followed by a prompt “dress” or “children’s clothes” and the like. While everything was happening at once, it was amazing to see this team sync in such a short time. Funny how this chaos was what we called our system. Over lunch, we had the unique opportunities to speak to other people who were there to volunteer. One group was a bunch of high school students who were there volunteering as part of a class. They come there every day to work at the store and gain skills to use later in the work force. Another group had the opportunity to hear of the powerful testimony of Miss Lisa, a frequent volunteer. After lunch we spoke in depth with Mr. Cash, the warehouse manager, regarding his experiences at the store. He said while he enjoys interacting with the patrons of the store, he likes where he is currently working behind the scenes. One thing he was extremely passionate about was that group of high school boys. He said these boys are more of employees than volunteers as they are here so often, however the way he spoke of these young men told a different story. These boys seemed like Mr. Cash had deemed them as part of his family. He said that since he doesn’t get that interaction with the shoppers as much, he has begun to take these boys under his wing. In order to help them grow, Mr. Cash holds those boys to a higher standard than any other volunteer. He made sure that these guys not only got the work done but also knew why they were doing it, did it in an efficient manner, and had a great attitude to the work. It was just wonderful to see the way that God has worked through our various sites and groups this week. While we may not realize it, these people we worked with had been impacted by just the small amount of sorting and fellowship we accomplished. Likewise, the people around us may not have known at the time, but it was wonderful to see the love of Jesus move through them in a way that has impacted us profoundly.