Tag Archives: Save and Serve Thrift Shop

Jeanty family is ready to return to Haiti

Fritz Jeanty family by Bruce Stambaugh

Mamie, Samuel, Fritz and Benjamin Jeanty will return to Haiti after spending a year in Millersburg, Ohio following the devastating earthquake January 12, 2010.

By Bruce Stambaugh

There is no place like home. In this case, for Fritz and Mamie Jeanty and their two young sons, Samuel and Benjamin, home is Haiti.

A year after their miraculous exit from earthquake ravaged Port au Prince, Haiti, to Millersburg, the Jeanty family is ready to return.

“From what I understand, it will be like it happened yesterday,” Fritz Jeanty said. “Friends and family tell me that almost nothing has been cleaned up.”

Fritz, 36, has been in regular touch via cell phone and e-mail with friends and relatives in his native Haiti. He knows it won’t be the best situation.

But he said thoughtfully, “It’s time to go home.”

Fritz understands the huge physical obstacles he and his family will face. His grocery store business was destroyed, and will never be reopened. Their home was damaged to the point of being unlivable. The cholera outbreak is yet another concern.

Nevertheless, Fritz and Mamie, 31, are ready to return home, ready to face the devastation and mourn the loss of life of friends, neighbors and family.

“Mamie lost two sisters,” Fritz said. “And right after the earthquake occurred, her 18-year-old brother disappeared. No one has seen him since.”

Fritz said he knows it will be hard to return. But he also knows it is the right thing to do.

“The people here have been wonderful to us,” Fritz said. “We are very, very grateful for all that has been done for us.”

A week after the massive trembler that leveled most of Port au Prince, Fritz used his resourcefulness to get his family to his father-in-law’s home in Orlando, Florida. From there he made contact with people with whom he previously worked in Christian Aid Ministries, based in Berlin, Ohio.

Within days the Jeantys were settled into a home in Millersburg, and donations of money, food, furniture and clothing were made. A Haitian Relief Fund was established to help the displaced family during their stay in Holmes County. At that point, the length of their stay was undetermined.

Fritz Jeanty by Bruce Stambaugh

Frtiz Jeanty volunteered five days a week at Save and Serve Thrift Shop during his year-long stay in Millersburg.

Fritz spent his time volunteering at Save and Serve Thrift Store in Millersburg five days a week, while Mamie cared for the boys. Samuel enrolled in Head Start preschool and soon learned English. Once the family adjusted to their temporary home, Mamie also volunteered at the store.

With his family safe, Fritz began thinking about their eventual return to Haiti. While assisting at Save and Serve, he marveled at the efficiency and goals of Save and Serve.

Knowing the need for good, inexpensive used clothing would be great in Haiti, Fritz imagined starting a similar store in Port au Prince using Save and Serve as a model. He shared his plan with the Save and Serve board of directors and they were supportive of his desire to help his fellow citizens while establishing a business to help his family survive, too.

Encouraged by their response, Fritz moved ahead with his plan. His father-in-law donated some land, and construction for the clothing store was begun.

A 26-foot box truck was donated to Fritz, and it was filled with clothing and shoes, which were also donated. Fritz and a driver, Ed Yoder of Millersburg, left for West Palm Beach, Florida. on January 10. Once there, the truck was loaded onto a cargo ship headed for Haiti.

“I need to be in Haiti when the truck arrives,” Fritz said.

He and his family plan to leave January 25. But it won’t be easy either for the Jeanty family or for those with whom they have worked.

“Fritz has been a tremendous help to us,” said Eric Raber, co-manager at Save and Serve. “He will definitely be missed, but we also wish the family well.”

Fritz plans on restocking his used clothing store in Haiti through the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) thrift store operations based in Akron, Pennsylvania. Such outreach businesses are part of MCC’s mission.

The Jeantys will live with family until Fritz can restore a room in their damaged home to a point where it is inhabitable.

“We will get one room ready,” Fritz said with his usual confidence, “and work on the rest as we can.”

As for the cholera, Fritz said that they would take the necessary precautions.

“We will only drink clean water,” he said. “We will wash our hands and make sure everything is clean before we eat it.”

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Sue Pyle just wanted to help

Sue Pyle by Bruce Stambaugh

Sue Pyle, of Strongsville, Ohio checked out some of the many items she donated to Save & Serve Thrift Shop for its Christmas Open House.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Sue Pyle wanted to downsize from her home in Strongsville, Ohio to a smaller place. That meant doing away with some of her most valuable treasures, her many Christmas tree displays.

For the past 26 years, Pyle has filled her house with the trees, each with its own separate theme. Year after year, she opened her house to many an admirer.

Pyle’s trees came in all sizes. She decorated as many as 32 trees. Some were half-trees that hung on the wall while others were miniature trees. Of course, she had a traditional Christmas tree, too.

The trees and ornaments took up a lot of storage space when not used. Though she hated to do it, Pyle knew in downsizing she had to dispense of much of her holiday decorating tradition.

Friends encouraged her to sell the decorations, some of which she had had for years. Others told her to hold a garage sale. But neither is what Pyle had in mind.

Instead, Pyle remembered what some friends had told her about the annual Christmas Open House held at Save & Serve Thrift Shop in Millersburg, Ohio. She had visited the store, learned of its mission, where the profits went, and made up her mind to donate her Christmas collection to Save & Serve, even though it was an hour away from her home.

“I know that all the money made from selling my items will go directly to help people,” Pyle said. “That’s what I wanted because I like their global mission.”

In total, all of Pyle’s seasonal decorations filled a 16-foot box truck and a van. It was probably the largest seasonally specific donation of it’s kind, according to Eric Raber, co-manager at Save & Serve.

“We once had a pick up load arrive from Chicago for the same reason,” Raber said. “But this was definitely the largest donation specifically for decorating.”

In addition to her Christmas items, Pyle also donated fall and other holiday decorations. Raber said the donations from Pyle helped make the Christmas Open House a huge success. The event was held Oct. 25-27.

“We sold 2,000 items the first day alone,” Raber said.

Curious as to how things would be displayed, Pyle visited Save & Serve the first day of the Christmas Open House sale.

“I was impressed with how they had everything displayed,” Pyle said. “They did an excellent job, and they were great to work with.”

Raber praised the seven volunteers who spent many hours organizing and creating the festive Christmas arrangements. He said many of the items were from Pyle’s donations.

“It was the eye of those who created the displays that made them so attractive and presentable for customers,” Raber said. “Those creative gifts made the open house the success that it was.”

“I really enjoyed visiting the store,” said Marilyn Howarth, a friend of Pyle’s who tagged along on the trip from the Cleveland area. “Everything was displayed so nice.”

Raber said this was the third year for the Christmas Open House, and the most successful. He said sales from the first day of the open house were the best since the opening day at Save & Serve’s South Washington Street location.

“Sue’s generosity was wonderful,” Raber said. “We value the intent of the donor.”

Raber said Save & Serve appreciates the generosity of all those who donate merchandise, as well as the generosity of time by the many volunteers who sort through the donations.

“Giving develops through relationships,” Raber said citing Pyle as an example. “It’s people connecting with people.”

Pyle, a retired elementary teacher, said she started her collections from the gifts given to her by students.

“It started with the giraffe collection,” she said. “I expanded my collections with spur-of-the-moment purchases.”

Some of her themes included a hunt tree, a kitchen tree, little books and a bear tree. She even had a Lakeside, Ohio tree, a place where she vacations annually.

Pyle’s generosity wasn’t just aimed at Save & Serve. In 2001, Pyle began creating a themed tree that she donated to the Akron Children’s Hospital’s Holiday Tree Festival. The trees are purchased with the proceeds going to the hospital.

“This year I am doing a Merry Mickey Christmas tree,” Pyle said.

Like the many shoppers at Save & Serve, whoever buys that tree will have their holidays enhanced thanks to Sue Pyle.

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Make shopping thrifty in Ohio’s Amish Country

Thrift store shopper by Bruce Stambaugh

Marlene Burrell of Mineral City, OH shops regularly at the Harvest Thrift Store in Sugarcreek, OH.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Frugal shoppers will find a bonanza in Ohio’s Amish Country. The area is abundant with several well-stocked thrift stores, which is a reflection of Amish and Mennonite values.

The Amish and Mennonite cultures have a reputation for being thrifty. Recycling clothing, house wares and other household items and much more not only fits that image but their theology of service as well. Accordingly, profits from all the area’s thrift stores go to various charities.

Great bargains covering a wide range of items can be found in each thrift store. All resell clean, functional and stylish merchandise for the entire family.

On the eastern edge of Amish Country is the Harvest Thrift Store in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Located at 1019 West Main Street, the Harvest Thrift Store has been in operation for four years. A second store at 102 East Main Street in Wilmot opened last May.

All proceeds go to youth ministries and to local non-profit organizations like Every Women’s House in Wooster. According to store manager Holly Lehigh, 30 to 40 percent of her customers are from out of the area.

“We have some people from out of state who come back three or four times every year,” she said. “They tell me that what they spend on gas they more than make up in the savings of what they buy.”

In Wayne County’s Kidron, MCC Connections offers its items in a pleasant and well-organized atmosphere. Store manager, Bill Ressler, said that a number of tour buses stop at the store on occasion, the most recent from North Carolina. He attributes those visits to the promotion of the store by the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

According to Ressler, all proceeds from sales at MCC Connections go to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Akron, Pennsylvania. MCC assists peoples around the globe in education, water projects and agricultural initiates, encouraging health, hygiene and sustainability. MCC Connections is located at 4080 Kidron Road, Kidron.

Back in Holmes County in the hub of Amish Country is Berlin, where Share and Care Thrift Store operates on U.S. 62. Share and Care sends 80 percent of its profits to Haiti missions and uses the balance for local needs, such as fire victims and personal disasters.

Day manager Noah Troyer estimated that at least 50 percent of the store’s business is from tourists. He said that amount increases during peak tourist time.

“We have had people here from Arizona and California,” Troyer said.

Millersburg, the county seat, hosts two thriving thrift shops, the internationally known Goodwill Industries, and Save and Serve Thrift Shop. They just happen to be catty corner from one another on South Washington Street at Rodhe Drive.

Like it’s international corporation goals, Goodwill’s objective is to finance the employment of those who need jobs. Store manager, Josh McWilliams, said most of his customers are local residents, though the number of tourists who frequent the store increases seasonally.

“They are mostly looking for down home, Amish-made items,” McWilliams said.

According to Helen Glick, co-manager at Save and Serve, about 25 percent of their customers are from outside the immediate area.

“Our on-going silent auctions seem to attract collectors and others interested in unusual pieces and antiques,” Glick said. A look at the silent auction bid book indicated customers from all across Ohio as well as several from other states.

Eric Raber, co-manager at Save and Serve, credits the community’s continued support for the long-term success of his store. Save and Serve was founded in 1975.

“Even in a down economy, the local people continue to provide us with amazing amounts and quality items to offer at reasonable prices,” Raber said. Like MCC Connections, all of the profits at Save and Serve are sent to MCC. In its 35 years of operation, Save and Serve has sent $3.3 million to MCC to help fund its global projects.

Whether from near or far, bargains galore are sure to be found in the thrift stores in Ohio’s Amish Country. And emblematic of the holiday spirit, all of the profits from sales go to those in need.

Thrifty shoppers by Bruce Stambaugh

Kay Schrock, Mary Hoefer, and Jo Troyer, all of Goshen, IN, and Becky Christophel of Harrisonburg, VA, shopped several Amish Country thrift stores, including Share and Care in Berlin. The three sisters and their mother, Troyer, enjoy their frequent rendezvous' in Ohio's Amish country.

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Nepali volunteer is all about business

Amrit Rajbanshi by Bruce Stambaugh

Electronics is one of the stations where Amrit Rajbanshi works at Save and Serve Thirft Shop, Millersburg, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Someone had to be first.

Amrit Rajbanshi is the first person from Nepal to serve in the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) program dubbed IVEP, short for International Volunteer Exchange Program. Of all the places in the United States he could have gone, Millersburg gets to be the recipient of his services.

Rajbanshi is serving as a volunteer at the Save and Serve Thrift Store on South Washington Street in Millersburg through next July. The 18-year-old is a first year college student majoring in business.

He arrived in the U.S from Nepal on August 11, and spent his first week participating in an orientation in Akron, Pennsylvania. He is one of 48 IVEP’ers from around the world who are serving in the U.S. through MCC this year.

“I feel blessed to have been chosen to be the first from Nepal to serve in the IVEP program,” Rajbanshi said. He said he chose to volunteer in a thrift shop to learn hands on business skills.

“I have already had several practical experiences,” he said, “compared to simply studying the theory of business in school.”

At Save and Serve, Rajbanshi has been assigned to work at several different stations, including repairing electronics, arranging clothing, serving as cashier, and handling the store’s online used book sales.

Rajbanshi starts each day at 8 a.m. sweeping in the store. He admitted that at first he thought that task was a bit menial for him. But he soon understood that it was an essential part of the IVEP process.

“I realized that if I don’t do the work, then who will do it?” Rajbanshi said, revealing wisdom beyond his years. “This is not only for me. It’s for MCC and all those who come after me.”

Rajbanshi is staying with Stan and Marilyn Kamp of Millersburg. His expenses are covered through MCC and Save and Serve and he receives an $80 monthly stipend for personal needs.

“I feel very welcome here,” he said. “I’m adjusting to the culture.”

Rajbanshi said his hometown in Nepal has a population of 100,000. But he is also used to the country since his father, Meghnath, is a pastor at a rural Brethren in Christ church in Nepal.

Family is very important to Rajbanshi, and he did acknowledge being a little big homesick. Besides spending time with his family, he said he enjoys soccer, chess and working on the computer.

Rajbanshi has two sisters, Urmila, who is a high school teacher and is studying for her master’s degree, and Punam, a high school student. His mother, Chandrabati, is a homemaker.

“I respect my father very much,” Rajbanshi said, “because unlike most others in our culture he treats woman equal to men.”

“IVEP is a very good program and opportunity,” Rajbanshi said. “It is nice to be introduced to the new culture.”

Rajbanshi said he is still learning English, although he speaks English very well. According to Helen Glick, co-manager at Save and Serve, knowing English is a requirement in order to be considered for IVEP.

Rajbanshi said he views being an IVEP’er as a form of peace building.

“I get to know and learn new people and a new culture,” he explained, “and when I go home I can tell my people what it’s really like here.”

Rajbanshi expressed a concern that neither his people nor those of other Asian nations really know what America is like and vice versa. Fortunately, he won’t have to do all the sharing on his own.

“MCC has lots of programs in Nepal in conjunction with the Brethren in Christ Church,” Rajbanshi said. In Nepal, MCC mainly supports efforts to equip grassroots community workers to build peace in their own context. They support education in settings from Nepal’s capital, Katmandu, to a remote mountain stone quarry where children work along side their parents.

Rajbanshi said Nepal is a country in political transition, moving from a Hindu state to a secular republic. He said the government has another year to complete that change.

“By the end of my year here,” Rajbanshi said, “I will use my experience in my schooling.” But true to his nature, Rajbanshi’s goal doesn’t stop there.
“I will try to inspire others to participate in the IVEP program,” he said. IVEP is aimed at young adults, 18-30.

This story appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter.

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