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Rogue Thrift Shop in Medford needs helpers to fulfill its mission

The Rogue Valley Thrift Shop’s small band of helpers is looking to recruit some big-hearted folks to join in their efforts to do as much good in the community as possible.

The little store on North Riverside Avenue in Medford is growing by leaps and bounds — right alongside the growing volume of need and ongoing hardship related to the pandemic and last year’s fires.

Sales at the shop help fund programs for the community’s most vulnerable provided by Kelly Shelter, Hope Village and the urban campground — all run by Rogue Retreat.

Employees and volunteers in the shop are on the front lines of the organization’s mission to provide help and compassion wherever needed.

Manager Jana Stanley said the shop mirrors the mission of Rogue Retreat, albeit with a retail twist. Low-cost items, such as boots and winter coats, are more affordable than at other thrift shops for lower-income shoppers. It’s also not uncommon to find the shop volunteers or employees helping provide a needed jacket, sleeping bag or even just a listening ear when a customer comes in with a lack of cash or other needs.

After the September fires, the store offered free clothing to fire victims.

“If someone comes in soaking wet, we make sure they get something,” Stanley said. “Parents come in and sometimes they’re really struggling to buy basic needs for their children. We make sure people have what they need and help our community in as many ways as we can.”

Monie Lepizco said she signed on to volunteer at a shelter for Rogue Retreat and planned to work at the thrift shop until a different role opened up. She since took on a regular job at the shop.

“I’ve been here 10 months. I wanted to work at Kelly Shelter, and they didn’t have a position, so I was cleaning offices when this opened up. When I finally got an opportunity to go to the Kelly Shelter, I decided not to leave because I like it here and I feel like we are doing so much good,” Lepizco said.

“Anybody that comes in and says they need a blanket, we just help them. It’s a good feeling to be a part of doing some good. Almost every day, before I even come in, I’m just sure somebody will come in and say, ‘Hey, I really need a blanket or a coat to stay warm. People will offer to wash windows and get some clothes for that. It’s all about community kindness and helping each other.”

Pastor Chad McComas, Rogue Retreat executive director, said the shop plays an important role in reaching vulnerable people.

“I think that we look at it as we would like to make a profit on that store to help our overall programs, but we haven’t made much profit on that store since we opened in 2014. We’re paying some people, so we’re at least creating a few jobs, and it benefits donors who want to help the community with usable items,” McComas said.

“It’s located in a very poor part of Medford. There are a lot of people living in those hotels on Riverside — people with not much money. If they can go into our little shop and make a few bucks go a little farther and get things that they need, it’s another way that we are serving the least of the least.”

McComas said the shop repurposes items and redirects things that can’t sell in the shop, in addition to helping more than a dozen other nonprofits.

“Some months what we send has been a check for $4, but we just want to show other nonprofits in our valley that we are all part of this together and we’re all trying to do things to bless this community.”

With a surge in donations this past year, likely from residents cleaning out garages during stay-home restrictions, Stanley said the shop could use help setting up displays, pricing items or helping with other tasks.

Donations are always welcome, and the shop features “discount days,” including Wednesday for military discounts and Monday for seniors.

Volunteers, however, are needed each day the shop is open, said Stanley.

“I started in December with a couple volunteers. We’re up to 14, and still there’s more to do than we can get done most days,” she said.

“The shop is growing by leaps and bounds, and we just need more people to help us. We walk out with new items and people want them as soon as they hit the shelf. It’s a fantastic shop, seeing the amount of people we help every day. The goal is to help the community and get to a point we can even provide more funding for Rogue Retreat, too.”

To sign up to volunteer, or for an appointment to drop off donations, call 541-499-0067.

Rogue Retreat Thrift Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, at 1116 N. Riverside Ave. Medford.

See more at facebook.com/ThriftShopRR/

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Jana Stanley, manager of the Rogue Retreat Thrift Store, goes through stock of jackets in the stores downtown Medford location. (Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune)