Christian Social Services of Lutz & Land O’ Lakes Inc., gets a lot of visitors, as people bring donations to the thrift store at 5514 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., which resembles a large red barn.
But, the charity had been trying to figure out a way to capture some of that traffic, before it headed back onto Land O’ Lakes Boulevard, said Jacquie Petet, executive director of the charitable organization.
That’s when they came up with the idea of issuing $3 in Red Barn Bucks to anyone who brings in a donation, Petet said.
The store needs to sell more merchandise to help cover payroll, utilities and other expenses, Petet said.
“We are a very low-budget organization. If you look around, you could probably find three things in this office that we actually paid money for. We just wait until it comes through the back door,” Petet said.
There are four employees and about two dozen regular volunteers. It also gets help, periodically, from youth groups and community organizations.
Despite its small staff, the organization provides great services, said Loretta Parker, who was at the thrift store recently to pick up some food from the pantry.
“If it hadn’t been for this place, I would be so far under,” Parker said. “They are great with every kind of help,” she said.
Volunteers Nancy Taylor, Beverly Maples and Mary Whitaker said they enjoy helping out.
Taylor was busy sorting bakery items on a recent day, while Maples and Whitaker stocked shelves in the food pantry.
“I like doing it,” Maples said. “I love the people here.”
The food and other services that Christian Social Services provides are much-needed in the community, Taylor said.
Patty Byers said she first became acquainted with the thrift store when she needed help.
“That was 13 years ago,” she said.
When Byers got back on her feet, she became a volunteer, and then she became a part-time employee.
“It’s a lovely place to work,” Byers said.
“We see people coming in that can’t feed their children, and when they leave, their shoulders are little more up, their head is a little higher,” Byers said.
“It’s a wonderful place,” she said.
Byers said they can also provide encouragement and remind those who are struggling that, “even though things seem bad, they can get better.”
People who enjoy thrift shopping will find much to peruse at the thrift shop, including clothing, housewares, interior décor, books, china and other items.
Christian Social Services opened its doors in August 1987. It is supported by churches in Lutz and Land O’ Lakes, and serves families and individuals in north Hillsborough and Central Pasco counties.
The organization provides backpacks, school supplies and clothing for school-aged children; food, clothing, household necessities for families, support services to people in crisis, and holiday food baskets and Christmas toys to families in need.
The organization also partners with FUMC-Lutz and Mission Tampa to provide free dental care for people in need within the community.
And, it sponsors and coordinates National Day of Prayer activities.
Its member churches are All Saints Lutheran, Candlewood Community Church, Church of the Lakes, First Baptist of Lutz, First United Methodist of Land O’ Lakes, First United Methodist of Lutz, Grace Family Church, Harvester United Methodist Church, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Idlewild Baptist, Land O’ Lakes Church of God and Tims Memorial Church.
Additional churches that provide support are Church of the Suncoast, Cornerstone Presbyterian, Heritage Christian Center, Keystone Community, and Village Presbyterian.
The thrift store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The emergency food pantry is open during those hours, too.
Christian Social Services Thrift Store
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What: Clothing, linens, shoes, dishes, jeans, small appliances, jewelry, books, home décor
Where: 5514 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., Land O’ Lakes
Deals: Every month, items marked with a different color are on sale. Everyone who donates goods receives a $3 coupon to spend in the store.
For more information: (813) 995-0088
Published February 24, 2016