When a donation is made to Bibles for Missions in Chatham, you can rest assured every penny they make selling goes to worthy local projects and others around the world.
Pat Alton, a long-time volunteer at Bibles for Missions, said it takes 150 volunteers working under a board of directors to keep the Chatham store going, and they are a dedicated bunch.
“We’re all here because we want to be and that’s what makes it so enjoyable,” said Alton.
Set up like a department store, Alton said the busy outlet is divided into departments, such as shoes, clothes, books, furniture, antiques, household items and a special shelf for collectibles.
But what makes Bibles for Missions unique in this area is that they will take broken furniture and electronics.
For instance, any jewelry that comes in goes to volunteer Marjorie Hall in her cubby, where she sorts and cleans it, tagging anything that is gold, silver or jeweled for the eight or so auctions the store hosts every year with higher quality donations.
“The nicer pieces, we save for our auction and for this time of year for Christmas gifts,” Alton explained.
Then there’s Doug Brohm, the resident keeper of the book department, who takes the book donations and makes sure only the nicest copies make it on to the floor.
“Doug has book sale every month, usually for half price,” Alton added.
You can see each area with a volunteer or two who fix electronics such as TVs and computers, repair and refinish furniture like tables and desks, and an area to fix and clean appliances like fridges and stoves.
A couple of volunteers are also in charge of sorting just about everything else, like housewares, collectibles, paintings and other more unusual items.
That leaves the boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations that the volunteers are currently going through and putting out on the floor, many of the items for 50 cents or a $1.
Alton said Bibles for Missions lets nothing go to waste and anything they can’t use is recycled.
“We throw nothing out. If it’s salvageable, we sell it; if not, we recycle it,” she noted. “You can come in and buy good stuff here. We serve the community here who can’t buy good stuff usually.”
A popular event at the Chatham store are the auctions that usually happen about eight times a year, Alton said, depending on the high-quality items that come in. She said jewelry is a big draw, but they also have Royal Dalton figurines, Nippon china, Depression glass, Bunnykins dishes, fur coats and antique items such as Tiffany lamps and clocks.
The auction items are put on display in locked cabinets and numbered and people can sign up and bid on items until auction day, then it goes live. Alton said she has usually about 100 items, but the upcoming auction Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. has 150 items and about 250-300 people signed up.
Alton said she, Brenda Kent and Brohm have fun talking up and modeling the items during the auction, and it’s a fun time for everyone involved.
The store has been open in Chatham for the past 25 years and despite adding on a large warehouse to the property, Bibles for Missions could use more storage space for the piles of donations that come in.
Alton said the store is always busy and they are constantly trying to get new items on the floor for people. She said the good prices compared to other thrift stores and the high quality of items they get from generous donors and the fact they don’t have to pay staff make Bibles for Missions very popular.
“All the money we get goes to buy bibles for missions, which used to be entirely foreign missions, but we also build schools and churches and do outreach in Canada as well,” Alton explained.
Bibles for Missions is located at 26 Wellington St. W., right by the railroad tracks. Pick up of items (not heavy items) can be scheduled, and delivery is available for a fee.