Unique partnership delivers the goods

Published 11:55 am Thursday, April 14, 2011

From left: Terry Bishop, pantry volunteer; Jim McClintock, TBOM pantry manager; Carol Greata, Good Shepherd Church; and Carol Newton, TBOM executive director. In front: Bob Breitweiser, Good Shepherd Church. Not pictured: Patti Peake, TBOM volunteer, and Lora Morgan, TBOM staff. (photo submitted)

Once a week, members of the Outreach Committee of The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Tryon team up with volunteers and staff of Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry (TBOM) for a shopping trip like none other. Their mission: to shop for a cause. Their destination: the United Way’s Gifts-In-Kind Center in Spartanburg, S.C.

Good Shepherd’s Outreach Chairperson Bob Bretwiser was the first to see the chance to partner with TBOM in this unique opportunity offered through United Way of the Piedmont, which runs the Gifts-In-Kind Center. Last fall, Father Walter Bryan, Rector of Good Shepherd and a member of TBOM’s board, offered to make the investment to underwrite the first year of TBOM’s membership to Gifts-In-Kind Center.

According to Jim McClintock, TBOM pantry manager, the investment has been well rewarded. One recent trip to the Gifts-In-Kind Center yielded close to $1,000 worth of everyday necessities such as toilet paper, diapers and personal hygiene products that TBOM will distribute to Polk County residents in need.

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The Gifts-In-Kind Center is the only one of its type in the southeast, and it has a unique charitable concept. The ‘products’ offered at this warehouse are consumer goods that have been damaged during transit, are mislabeled or otherwise unfit for sale at local Walmart stores. Exel Logistics, a leading contract logistics provider with a facility in Spartanburg, processes the items and coordinates their donation to the Gifts-In-Kind Center, which, in turn, makes them available to charitable organizations such as TBOM.

Through its membership, TBOM is allowed one weekly 30-minute visit to the center for a nominal fee of $10. Jim McClintock schedules trips from one to two weeks in advance and gathers a team of six volunteers and staff members for the trip to Spartanburg.

“With more of our neighbors out of work and facing significant economic challenges, we are reporting a record number of requests for services,” says Carol Newton, TBOM executive director “Some people are seeking assistance for the very first time. Product donations such as those we can now provide through the Gifts-In-Kind Center fill a very real void and help to sustain families.”