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Thrift store serves needy, offers lessons to teens

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POSTED: August 16, 2010 2:21 p.m.
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The Teen Line volunteers.

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When it comes to leveraging resources and mobilizing volunteers to help people in need, United Way of the Coastal Empire in Bryan County has its act together.
“The support from the community has been phenomenal; from city government to county government to law enforcement to the church community to the average person on the street,” said Janice Blunt, area director of United Way in Bryan County.
And perhaps the most unique program administered by United Way in Bryan County is its latest, The Teen Line. Like its predecessor, The Clothes Line, The Teen Line is a thrift store where quality, gently-used clothing and apparel can be purchased for pennies on the dollar.
What is special about The Teen Line program is that it’s the first thrift store in the area designed specifically for teens, by teens.
“I had a couple of teenagers come to me and say they wanted to be involved in the community…they actually wanted to have a little corner in The Clothes Line for teen clothes,” recalls Wendy Sims, director of Bryan County Family Connection.
But after speaking with Blunt, Sims came back with an even better offer for her budding philanthropists – a whole store devoted to clothing and accessories for teens.
Thanks to the generosity of local businessman Herman Haggery, a space for the store on College Street in downtown Pembroke that was previously occupied by The Clothes Line prior to its move to South Main Street, was made available for The Teen Line, free-of charge.
And with that, the kids went to work painting the store to suit their teen motif, procuring the proper donations – brand name and age-appropriate clothing, and hangers and wracks to display their treasures. For more than six months, they put their heart and soul into the project, and on April 9 The Teen Line opened its doors to the public.
“It’s been an awesome experience seeing people come in, and it’s exciting to actually work the register and see we made money,” said Taylor Stanfield, The Teen Line volunteer.
At 16, Taylor’s involvement in The Teen Line is providing her far more than the practical skills of a retail job. She is learning to appreciate her blessings and be respectful of others with less fortune.
“I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t have the same stuff that I have, and I have to be careful not to take that for granted. It’s really easy to get caught up in that kind of stuff,” she said.
And Taylor is not alone in her sentiments. Just ask any of her fellow teen volunteers at the store, and they’ll tell you the experience is pushing them to interact with their community in new ways and bringing to them an awareness and sense of gratitude they hadn’t before known.
So what’s next for The Teen Line?
“I’d like to see the program grow to other communities, like Richmond Hill, and maybe other people get the idea and start it in their own community,” said Taylor.
Blunt, along with a team of community volunteers and partner entities, provide a growing list of services to North Bryan County residents. Through these strategic collaboratives, programs like SHEPherd’s Supper, Bonus Bag and The Clothes Line have given folks in this area something to smile about.
While the SHEPherd’s Supper and Bonus Bag programs address nutritional needs, The Clothes Line provides clothing and household goods to low-income families, seniors and disabled citizens.
For more information about The Teen Line, call Janice Blunt at 912-653-5344.
United Way of the Coastal Empire is a proud funder of this program. For information about how you can support programs such as this call 912-651-7700.
 

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