By Kayla Hayes
Upon appearance, Helping Hands Thrift Store in Plant City looks similar to any other thrift store. It has racks of used clothing, children’s toys, household supplies – a little bit of everything. But, Helping Hands is far from the average thrift store. Everything from expensive, brand-name clothing to unused prom dresses are sold for less than $1.
Founder Kathy Walker, whose heart had been weighted down by the overwhelming needs in her community, thought of the idea several years ago in a local Dollar Store.
There are 12 volunteers at Helping Hands, located on Baker St. Cecile and Janice Carr, according to their daughter Jachelle Henderson, are “the glue that holds it all together.”
“The people who come here are real troopers,” said Janice, “because there’s no luxury here. But we’re like a family. If something happens to one of our volunteers, we go out of our way to help them.”
Donny Douglas volunteers 60 hours a week and is considered the “muscles.” Tommy Thompson volunteers three days a week and is the prayer warrior of the team; David Walker greets everyone with a warm hello when they arrive, and then there’s Kathy who works 12 hours a day, six days a week.
“We don’t see color, disability, where you come from, how much money you have,” said Kathy.
During the hour I was there, Helping Hands fed ten Plant City families for free. Everything runs off of donation, and all of the money that comes into the store goes back into the Plant City community. Kathy (the founder) doesn’t collect a paycheck for herself. The store has at least one free event every month. The team is preparing a Fourth of July event next.
The ministry is in need of donated items and volunteers. Food, men’s clothing and children’s clothing are needed most. Other needs include a new or used air conditioner to be donated and installed, carpentry and electrician work. Helping Hands Dollar Thrift Store and Donation Center is located at 604 E. Baker St. in Plant City. Call 781-4272 to reach Kathy Walker. Store hours are Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.