A new office manager has joined the staff led by Chipola Family Ministries Thrift Store Manager Fred Cook. Kaye Maynard is coming on board as her predecessor, the Rev. Michael Murray, departs to take on his new job as pastor at the First Baptist Church in Sneads.

On Thursday, though, Murray was still at the store helping tie up the loose ends that come with transition.

Maynard comes aboard at a critical time for the store, and she’s been tasked with helping achieve two important goals: To find more volunteers and secure more food donations.

The thrift store is one of the main missions that Cook and his team oversee. The merchandise sales from the store help augment the charitable outreach they provide, which includes food and clothing giveaways to the needy in Jackson County’s population.

Several volunteers put in countless hours in helping sort that merchandise and get it ready for the shelf and well as helping organize the food and clothing distributions. But more are needed now to replace some helpers who have aged out of service or for other reasons have stepped down or taken a break from service to avoid burnout.

Maynard is hoping to recruit some fresh bodies, especially to work on Saturdays, as she takes over her duties at the store. Anyone who wishes to volunteer or find out more can call her at 482-6407. Maynard said volunteers don’t have to commit whole days to the cause. “We can use you if you have 10 minutes or 10 years,” her boss is fond of saying. Management is happy to work within whatever schedule of service each volunteer can offer, Maynard added.

The other big need right now is food. For years, a score of churches, individuals and civic organizations have regularly give dry goods and canned foods that are distributed each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. But the number of donations is dwindling, Cook said, while demand is increasing. For instance, in May, 33 new families signed up for food. In June, 29 new families had signed up.

Cook also noted that some people who at one time contributed food regularly are now among those who take a number and get in line for assistance themselves. Downturns in a struggling economy have led to job losses and other misfortune for many, he said.

Maynard is hoping to find more churches, organizations and individuals who are willing to step up and commit to giving so that CFM doesn’t have to put tighter limits on the amount of food each family receives on distribution days. Cook says it may come to that in short order if something doesn’t change.

Maynard and Cook know that if they can get more volunteers and more food donations, those accomplishments will work together to make life better for those who are struggling.

Having more volunteers, for instance, could get merchandise on the shelves more quickly. And that means more sales in shorter order. And that means more money flows faster to help the community.

It also means more excitement for shoppers like young Harper Hatcher and her grandmother, Starlite Parker. The toddler and her grandmother are in the store a lot, they have a big time, Parker says. She can pick up toys on the cheap, paying $1 or a quarter for something that might have cost many more dollars new. The pricing allows her and the youngster to engage in almost limitless retail therapy as they bond in the shopping experience.

“I love shopping here,” Parker said. “The people are so warm and friendly. You feel so welcome to be here. We can wander these aisles all we want and it’s okay. Anybody can afford to shop here and everybody should. We have a good time, we find treasures, and it’s also a very good feeling to know that when you buy, you’re indirectly helping someone.”

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