A Thrifty Way to Making a Difference

By Sandra Zunino

With prices of groceries, fuel and electricity continuing to rise, some people are having a hard time keeping their cupboards stocked with even the essentials. Fortunately, the Living Water Thrift Shop and Food Bank in Stevensville are available for the needy.

In 1998, the Living Water Lutheran Church opened a small food pantry in the fellowship hall. After about a year and a half, so many people came, it was apparent they would need a larger space. Now located at 210 Duke Street (near the Citgo), the Living Water Thrift Shop creates revenue to help sustain the Food Bank.

A 501(c)3 non-profit business run entirely by volunteers, the Living Water Thrift Shop takes in donations of adult and children’s clothing, toys, books, jewelry, household items like dishes, pots, pans, decorations, lamps, pictures, etc., and sells them. Donators can request a receipt for their tax records.

“Clothing is probably our bread and butter,” says Gail Flynn, Thrift Shop Administrator. The income goes to pay rent and utilities for the facility and to purchase non-perishable food items for the food bank.

The Thrift Store is not too particular about what donations they accept; however, because of limited space, they are unable to allow furniture donations. Unlike some consignment stores, brand names do not matter. “We just want things to be clean and in good, saleable condition,” says Gail.

While Thrift Store customers come from as far away as Delaware and the Western shore, Food Bank recipients tend to be local including Grasonville, Chester, Stevensville and a few from Centreville.

“We made a decision early on that we weren’t going to turn anyone away who came for food,” says Gail. “When we sign people up, we like to have some sort of an ID.” Recipients, usually unemployed or underemployed people, pick up the food items for as long as they need. According to Gail, 30 percent of the recipients are seniors who are no longer able to work.

With only 11 items per recipient, it’s just a supplement to help people out. “We wish we could give more, but we currently don’t have the resources,” says Gail.

Approximately 250 people come to the Food Bank per week. Gail says usually this number drops back to 120 to 140 during the summer months, but for the first time in 10 years, that has not happened. Gail predicts that once the weather turns cold, the numbers will skyrocket.

Bags of food include canned fruits and vegetables, dry goods like macaroni and cheese, pasta, cereal, Hamburger Helper, and jars of spaghetti sauce, etc. Pepperidge Farm donates bread. Many times Scout clubs and area schools hold food drives and donate items to the Food Bank.

The Thrift Shop is open Tuesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Thursdays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. They take donations during these hours as well. With the approaching holidays, winter clothing and seasonal items are appreciated.

Volunteers are also needed for the Thrift Shop and Food Bank. “Currently, we have about 32 volunteers, but we can always use more,” says Gail. “Someone volunteering just two hours a month makes a huge difference to us.”

For more information, call 410-604-0450. The Thrift Shop takes cash and some local checks. Cash donations for the Food Bank are also appreciated.