North Mountain Thrift Store

Helping the community while raising money for scholarships

What issue is being addressed to population is being served?

The North Mountain Community Thrift store not only raises money for medical-based scholarships but also provides quality clothes to the surrounding community. The neighborhoods surrounding the thrift store often have lower socio-economic backgrounds, so having a clean, safe place where families can buy clothes can significantly help those who cannot afford to buy new clothes. Often times the thrift store receives "pink slips" from either the Desert Mission Food Bank or a nearby shelter. These pink slips instruct volunteers to supply whoever came in with the clothes, shoes, or household items they need free of charge. So even when the thrift store is not raising funds for scholarships, it provides necessary items such as clothes, underwear, socks, or shoes for people who may not have much of anything. The North Mountain Community Thrift Store is unique because it helps those in need whether due to poverty or an abusive relationship, all while raising funds for scholarships that create a better future.

Picture: Outside view of the thrift store. Although the front of the store is not stately or fancy, the thrift store represents so much more than just a building. Here people can come to receive what they need, knowing that they will be welcomed and safe.

What are some of the pressing needs/issues in the community? How does this project address those needs?

One main need in the community is for clean, quality clothes as well as miscellaneous household items. The thrift store provides the community with a large selection of donated clothes including jackets, socks, shoes, underwear, pants, and children's clothing. The thrift store also offers nice dishes, sheets, and kitchen tools for a low, reasonable price. One thing that we do at the Thrift store is ensure that any electronics we sell are in good, working condition. John, a veteran and engineer, comes and volunteers every weekend and personally checks each individual appliance to make sure it works so that people can be certain when they buy something it will work. An indirect community need is that of scholarships, and all the proceeds from the stores go to raising scholarships for students in Phoenix who want to go to college and work in the medical field.

Inside the Store

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This is where I did most of my volunteer work. In the main area of the store, I usually run the register or often times will walk around the store to see if any customers need assistance. It is here that I am able to meet and serve so many different people.

The Back Room

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The back room is equally important as the main store. Here John will sit and fix all the broken appliances, we will collect donations and organize them, as well as fill out donation forms. Some of the other volunteers work tirelessly to organize all the donations in a neat and orderly fashion, so that restocking the shelves or clothing racks is as easy as possible. Here is also where we count the money given to us at the beginning and at the end of our shift. Although this is where most of the heavy lifting is done, the volunteers are the backbone of the store's success.

How will I continue my involvement?

I really enjoyed getting to volunteer at the thrift store, and I plan on continuing volunteering every other weekend. (I even have a laminated badge with my picture on it!) The other volunteers are so kind and have such giving hearts, it makes me feel welcome and want to come back. I enjoyed being able to talk with the customers, learn their stories, and help them get the clothing they needed. Additionally, I will continue to contribute to North Mountain Community Thrift store by donating any clothes or items that I no longer need. I also want to go and shop there because not only will I have the opportunity to help a wonderful cause, I will find many cute, affordable clothes that I would love to wear.

What information can you share with your peers or the community?

Volunteering has not only been rewarding, but it has also been really fun! We get to sell Christmas decorations, ornaments, and festive ugly sweaters during the winter. The thrift store can be a lot of work during the times when there are a lot of people in the store, but that just enables you to help more people and create more connections. One of the most fulfilling feelings is when we have returning customers and they update us on their lives, share with us what is going on in their lives and their burdens. Volunteering here allows you to create relationships with so many different people and gives you a better idea of how much you can take for granted. You realize how much you have and do not need. It offers a different perspective to see the gratitude on children's faces when they receive a pair of shoes that fits or a new, warm jacket. Last year alone, the North Mountain Auxiliary awarded $20,000 in scholarships thanks to the thrift store. This money is only able to be donated and raised because of all the volunteers' work.
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This is the cash register where I spend a majority of my time. Here I get to talk with customers and help them with whatever they need. My favorite thing about working at the cash register is that I get to give any children that come in a free book or handmade toy.

How can you educate others or raise awareness about this group or social issue?

I believe that while people know of the poverty that exists in Arizona, that they do not truly understand the extent that it reaches. Attending high school at Mountain Ridge where every student has a iPads and every classroom a smart board, it becomes easy to forget that there are those living here, in the city of Phoenix, who are affected by poverty. I hope that this website will start a small spark of awareness of the poverty conditions in not only Arizona, but specifically Phoenix. According to The Arizona Republic, Phoenix has the third largest percentage of people living in poverty, approaching twenty percent. Donating to the North Mountain Community Thrift Store is an easy way to help those affected by poverty in Phoenix, not only through the clothes or items you give but also through the money it raises for student scholarships to provide a better future.