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Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013 12:00 pm

OTWAY — Loaves and Fishes, a Christian benevolence ministry, will hold a ribbon cutting Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of its thrift store on Straits Road in this Down East community.

The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Loaves and Fishes Down East Thrift Store at 112 Straits Road, which is the cutoff road to Gloucester off of the main Harkers Island Road.

Proceeds from the sale of thrift store items will be used to help the needy in the Down East area of the county, according to thrift store manager Martha McAdams.

“It’s just the economy. People can’t find jobs, there’s a lot of elderly and a lot of people just have needs,” she said Wednesday during a telephone interview. “We just feel like this will be a real asset to the community.”

She said residents have already been dropping by the store.

“While we’ve been getting the store ready we’ve had people buying and bringing stuff by and volunteering to help. God has blessed us and we just want to emphasize that proceeds from everything we take in and sell will be used to put back into the community.”

Ms. McAdams said there will be no paid staff and the store will be operated totally by volunteers.

Hours of operation will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The store will sell adult, children’s and infant clothes, household items, furniture, small appliances and more.

“We’ll take anything but TVs, pianos and large appliances like stoves and refrigerators,” she said.

Free pickup will be available for those wanting to donate items by calling the thrift store. Items can also be donated during regular business hours.

Ms. McAdams said they are working on a plan to have a drop-off location after hours, but that has yet to be determined.

As for how proceeds will be used, Ms. McAdams said one program being organized is Backpack Blessings, which will provide free food and snacks to needy children at Down East schools.

There are also future plans to hold food giveaways and offer financial assistance to needy Down East families at the store.

The thrift store is an extension of the Loaves and Fishes Ministries based in Beaufort. That program began in 2008 when Beaufort pastors began to think about the best way to meet the needs of the Beaufort area and encourage Christian churches to work together.

They started with a simple food pantry supported by a handful of churches. Now, it has grown into eight outreach ministries supported by 10 churches. They provide 20,000 pounds of food each month to 400 needy families.

The Rev. David Bruce of Calvary Baptist Church in Beaufort, a member of the Loaves and Fishes Board of Directors, said Down East residents who volunteer with Loaves and Fishes, including Ms. McAdams, suggested opening the Down East Thrift Store and reaching out to that part of the county.

Once the Loaves and Fishes Board of Directors approved the idea, things quickly fell into place. Ned and Gail Golden of Golden Building Corp., who own buildings and storage facilities Down East, offered a good deal on a building, as well as donated two storage buildings on Straits Road.

Volunteers began stepping forward to operate the Down East store.

“God’s vision was much bigger than our vision,” said Rev. Bruce. “We are just trying to follow His lead.”

Rev. Bruce thanked all those who are supporting the Down East effort as well as the other outreach ministries operated by Loaves and Fishes. He added that financial donations are always welcome to assist the various ministries.

For those wanting to make monetary tax-deductible donations, make checks out to Loaves and Fishes of Beaufort, and mail them to 119 Bunch Road, Beaufort, N.C. 28516.

Ms. McAdams said volunteers are needed to help with the Down East Thrift Store as well. Those interested in volunteering, donating items, or wanting more information can contact her at the store, 504-0130, or at 252-619-4636.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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