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Thrift store to focus on helping needy

December 5, 2018

Thrift of Hope, a nonprofit on 206-210 S. Third St., was an idea to make that street better for the city of Watertown. “The street lost its identity of being a safe street,” Gene Schmidt, president of the nonprofit Adoration Abode said. Adoration Abode oversees the thrift store.

He said Third Street was bad two and a half years ago, comparing it to Pottersville from the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Schmidt said it was because of problems at the clubs and bars.

“Everyone in town knows how bad it was,” Schmidt said. ”… that street was a war zone.”

He thought a thrift store would be a good way to raise funds for good causes, like helping the homeless in the area. This idea was eight months in the making.

“It was a lot of work,” Schmidt said. “It’s not something you would do in a month or two. You got to take a few months and really work at making every part of the space useful. That became an interesting journey.”

The store opened up on Oct. 1 at the former Luna’s Market. People donated inventory and display cases to Schmidt and all employees are volunteers.

Thrift of Hope sells donated items such as clothes, shoes, kitchenware, electronics and small items. The store also has a food pantry that is open twice a week.

He said all profits from Thrift of Hope helps the homeless.

“Whatever money we get beyond our bills, we’re going to raise to help the homeless,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he hopes to use funds from the store to rent a place to house the homeless.

The homeless visit the store as well as individuals and families struggling financially. Schmidt recalled a day when a girl came in with “hardly any clothes.”

“For whatever reason we had kids come in from local schools that lack good shoes or a coat,” Schmidt said. “It’s been very useful in helping people when they can’t afford a shirt or a pair of pants, we’ve given it to them.”

Jeanette Budewitz is a volunteer at Thrift of Hope. She helps put out clothes and feed the homeless who come into the store.

She said they give out clothes and blankets for free to those who need it.

Budewitz said she was once homeless so she enjoys helping them.

“I think it’s a good thing that the thrift store is here,” Budewitz said. “It helps out a lot of people. There have been a lot of people coming through where they just cry and they have no hope and they leave smiling and happy. I’m grateful to be here …”

Thrift of Hope is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Schmidt said Watertown is a great community to do nonprofit work in and residents are compassionate and giving.

“The common people know what hard times are about …” Schmidt said. “I’m thankful that our city is still a place where people can come and find hope through the various outreaches in Watertown.

If someone has a building for rent or has information about one, contact Schmidt at cwnnashville@gmail.com or P.O. Box 780, Watertown, WI 53094.

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