Heavenly Treasures Thrift Store of Ocoee manager Lynn Stone said donations given to the shop are having a profound impact on the community.
“A grandmother came in after her grandchildren were dumped in her lap. The children had no clothing, and they were starting school the next day,” Stone said. “Between myself and my daughter, Tanya, we got her probably about two months of clothing for every one of the children.”
Stone added, “She didn’t have to pay for anything.”
Heavenly Treasures was the brainchild of Sharon Foskey. She initially opened a store on Broad Street before expanding into Polk County in November of 2012.
Stone volunteered to open and manage the store as it was in her neck of the woods.
Foskey recently made the tough decision to close Heavenly Treasures in order to pursue establishing Mercy House, a ministry of Mercy Restoration Ministries, as a local nonprofit.
The store on Broad Street often provided for those in need. Foskey would hand out three bottoms, tops, pairs of underwear, socks and a pair of shoes to those who asked for help. Jackets, coats, gloves and hats were passed out during the colder months. All profits were placed back into the store for bills, like utilities.
The closing of the store found Foskey pulling on community relationships in an effort to ensure those in need will find help.
River of Life Thrift Store Ministries on Inman Street and Second Harvest Thrift Store and Ministry Center on South Lee Highway agreed to continue Foskey’s outreach.
The recently established Heavenly Treasures in Ocoee is eager to do the same.
Foskey said she is very, very proud of the Ocoee-based store.
“A lot of people think of a thrift store, and they think secondhand. Yes, it is, but we go through every piece of clothing, and we inspect it thoroughly,” Foskey said. “If it has the slightest little spot, the slightest little tear, a button missing, a zipper not working, then we have another bin we put it in.”
Name brands like American Eagle, Hollister, North Face and Aeropostale can be found marked at the same price as the rest of the merchandise. The prices are kept low to help the patrons: jeans, $2; shorts, $1; coats, $5; jackets, $3; shoes, $1; and other additional items.
Families, single parents and individuals from Bradley County, Polk County and northern Georgia visit the store for good deals.
“We help them out. That is what we do,” Stone explained. “We have low-income families around here and they cannot afford to shop at the malls or Walmart, because prices can be high.”
Volunteer Renee Biddick said it does not matter so much the amount of money a person makes. Maybe someone has bills to pay and six children to clothe.
She said one patron comes in at the beginning of every season to find clothes for her kids.
“Their income just isn’t enough to go to the store and buy new ones, especially with the way kids grow,” Biddick said. “We have a lot of families who depend on this store a lot. That is what we are here for, to help them.”
Foskey’s tradition of handing out three bottoms, tops, pairs of underwear, socks and a pair of shoes is being continued at Heavenly Treasures.
Biddick and Stone said the community has been good about donating clothes and other household items.
A couple of churches, like Smyrna Baptist and Calvary Church of God, have provided donations for the local thrift store.
Stone expressed a desire to see more churches band together to answer the community’s needs.
“We need help to help you,” Stone said. “We need people in Polk County to help us. Instead of throwing your clothes away, bring them to us.”
The store is located behind the Huddle House in Ocoee off of Highway 411.
The store is opened for shopping and donation drop-offs Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.