Thrift store thriving in Rio Grande

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Many stores are suffering in the economy, but a thrift store in this municipality is thriving. The community is benefitting, too.

Last year, the St. Mary’s This ‘N That Thrift Shop brought in $440,000, with the net profits going to help the underserved in Cape May County.

The Mustard Seed of Cape May County, a not-for-profit organization, runs the shop, and in 2012 donated $166,000 in gifts and grants to organizations and charities.

That includes everything from helping Atlantic Cape Community College students recover for Superstorm Sandy to pledging $50,000 to support building a home in Whitesboro for Habitat for Humanity

 “It’s exciting and very gratifying to help the underserved in our county,” said Mustard Seed President Shellie Tibbitts.

The outreach program is part of the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stone Harbor.

Since 2010, the organization has given out nearly $400,000, and has a focus on helping families with food, clothing and shelter.

One of the biggest recipients of the money last year was Habitat for Humanity. The Mustard Seed pledged $50,000 for the construction of a house in Whitesboro.

Also in 2012, The Mustard Seed gave $1,500 to the Sandy relief fund for Atlantic Cape Community College students.

The organization also donated $15,000 to benefit the new collegiate computers program at Atlantic Cape’s Cape May County Campus. Some second-year students would be able to receive computers and printers, and be able to keep them after graduating.

“We just enjoy helping the community,” Tibbitts said.

The thrift store, which opened in 2007, draws 1,000 customers a week at the Village Shoppes at Rio Grande.

“They’re [items] attractively displayed,” she said. “We take a lot of pride on our merchandising.”

Someone could purchase an outfit for work for under $10, Tibbitts said.

“And it’s in style, and it’s clean,” she said.

She said special offers are also given at the store.

“The need is out there,” she said.

Also at the shop, those in need can get clothing at the shop for free on Fridays.

The Mustard Seed also runs Heavenly Scavengers, which saves household items that would otherwise be destroyed, Tibbitts said.

People can pick out what they need, she said, with the most wanted item being mattresses.

The effort started in 1999 and served 1,012 in 2012.

The targeted areas are the Wildwoods, Villas, Rio Grande, Woodbine and Whitesboro, she said.

“That seems to be the areas of the need,” she said.

Tibbitts said some who were helped turn around and help others.

“They’re always appreciative,” she said.

She spends about 100 hours a month with The Mustard Seed, including pitching in at the thrift store.

Tibbitts started helping with the organization in unpacking and stocking shelves at the first thrift store five and a half years ago. She has been president for a year.

The thrift store is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday in Rio Grande. Call the shop at 886-7272.

For more information on The Mustard Seed, see www.stmarysstoneharbor.org.


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