Leanne Parden knows the meaning of killing two birds with one stone.
Parden, pastor of the Hilltop Community Full Gospel Church on North Huron, has opened a thrift store which is not only providing people an opportunity to purchase low-cost clothing and household items, but is also helping fund some mission work of the church.
“It’s something I prayed about,” Parden said of the thrift store the church opened in early June at 11 N. Westmoor on the Hilltop.
“I was in hopes I would be able to pay the rent,” she said.
That burden was realized after the first few days of business. And what is left over will go to help the mission work the church has embarked upon.
Donations to the thrift store are coming from the community – as are the customers.
“We’ve had customers walk in off the street,” Parden said of the early business done with limited advertising.
And it’s almost the same way with the donations.
“A church from London (in Madison County) brought over two pick up trucks of items,” she said.
All donated clothing has to be clean and other items must be in working condition, she said.
Parden pointed to items on the shelves, some of which had never been out of the boxes. A lot of toys sit on the shelf in the front window. Gently used clothing hangs on racks or hangers or is folded on shelves.
Tableware lines one shelf. Jewelry dangled from holders.
“With the economy the way it is, people are looking for an alternative place to shop,” she said. “They see this as something that goes to a worthy cause.”
Parden’s church, just a couple blocks away from the thrift store, supports three mission projects – a pre-release program for women in prison, a youth ministry for the Blackfeet Indians in Browning, Mont., and a children’s ministry in Ghana, West Africa.
For the past year and a half, Parden has been leading the pre-release program on Harmon Avenue, working with incarcerated women, “trying to get them to get through their past and submit their life to God,” she said.
“The main problem these women have is to be able to forgive and ask for forgiveness,” the pastor said.
As women face release from prison, they face problems with finding housing and work. That is one thing that Parden is trying to work toward.
“We’ve got to get them to the next point, get them on their feet,” she said.
While she is working with that program, she is also helping raise funds to help keep young Blackfeet Indians in Montana from falling into drug and alcohol abuse, problems that are prevalent in many Indian areas of the country.
Through the Fan the Flames ministry of the church, Parden is participating with other churches in working in Ghana in an attempt to build a school for the children.
“Ten thousand dollars will build a school there,” she said.
Parden notes that the thrift store is faith-based nonprofit, a 501c3, so donors can keep track of the value of their donations for tax purposes.
Four volunteers are currently working to keep the shelves stocked with donated items that are for sale.