• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Journey Church to open thrift store

JOURNEY CHURCH Discipleship Pastor Tony Hardin, right, and Journey Provisions Director Heather Nichols take a look at some of the clothing that will be available when the church's new thrift shop opens Jan. 3. (Photo by John McGary)

"I'm really excited. I've had a heart for this for a long time and I can't wait," said Heather Nichols, director of Journey Provisions, the new name of the clothing bank at Journey Church that opens Jan. 3. For the last 15 years, Journey Church (known until last year as Woodford Community Christian Church) has operated a clothing bank with accessories and household items donated by local churches free to the needy in Woodford County. With vouchers from churches, the Woodford County School Resource Center or Bluegrass Community Action Agency, needy folks were allowed to come once a month and fill up a garbage bag with whatever they needed. Next Tuesday, the mission changes: while voucher recipients will still receive free clothing and other items, Journey Provisions will operate as a more traditional thrift shop, selling to everyone. "We want to be able to meet the most needs possible, we want to reach the most people possible, and we have a very limited scope of who we can reach right now," said Nichols. The new vision is three-fold, Nichols said: to provide an affordable shopping option for the working poor, to use the money from sales in the new store to offer new choices ranging from a diaper rack to interview clothes, and to give those "in the deepest of need" a food or clothing voucher to use at the store. The idea is by charging a little, Journey Provisions will be able to offer a lot more, Nichols said. "We will be able to reach more and do more, because we will have that profit to work with, and 100 percent of that's going to go back into the community to be able to do more," Nichols said. "Because there's a lot of needs that aren't being met right now." Nichols cited a "hats and gloves" ministry and baby items as examples. "There's nowhere now, that if a mom's in need of diapers, that she can go - aside from calling me, which is what the solution is currently - different churches will call me, 'Heather, I know that you will help us out. Can you please go get us some diapers?'" Nichols said. A rack full of free diapers and wipes in the back of the store will address that problem. Other changes include keeping donated items like out-of-date clothes or blankets in bad shape they used to throw away or give to Goodwill in Woodford County. Not-so-stylish clothes will go to the Woodford Theatre, and stained towels and blankets will go to animal rescue efforts, Nichols said. "We're going to be able to provide for all these Woodford County ministries, and keep everything here, because that's what the public wants," Nichols said. Nichols said the "core volunteers" for the former clothing bank will be joined by several others to keep the store open far more often. "Now that it's switching over to a Journey thing, we have a lot of young people who previously didn't even know that they would be welcome here . are starting to come, and Journey families are starting to come and wanting to dedicate specific amounts of time every week or every month. So it's becoming a bigger thing," Nichols said. Journey Discipleship Pastor Tony Hardin said the new mission will include vastly expanded hours - from once a week to four days a week for donations and three days a week for shopping. "To be able to have it open a couple of days in the evening, because if you're working, it's difficult to do," Hardin said. Nichols said while the job keeps her busy, the rewards are many. "We actually just got a thank-you note today from The Nile (a local drug recovery center for young women) . The girls come with nothing, so they need shirts, they need pants, they need warm clothes. So last week we were able to provide them with the things they needed for all their young ladies, and that's another ministry in Woodford County we were able to support," Nichols said Another goal for Journey Provisions is to provide an example of Christian charity - to bring them closer to God, if not necessarily Journey Church. "Even though this is a Journey ministry, all of the churches that were previously involved are still involved. Every Monday and Tuesday, the volunteers from St. Leo's and the Methodist Church and King's Way (and 10 other churches) are still involved . so it's still a community effort," Nichols said. "It's being led by Journey, but it's a community effort." Hardin added, "It's not really throwing out what's been in the past. It's building on it." Journey Provisions hours: Donations: . Monday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. . Tuesday: 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. . Thursday: 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. . Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shopping: . Tuesday: 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. . Thursday: 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. . Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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