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Photos by Dani Wilson
An inside look at one of the thrift store's rooms.
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Photos by Dani Wilson
Transformers United For Christ International Outreach Ministries, 1145 College Ave.
Alton has a new thrift store, and the profits are lighting up the town — literally.
Transformers United for Christ International Ministries, a non-denominational church on College Avenue, has officially opened a thrift store called Gifts of Love. Profits from the store are going toward a new Transformers United for Christ ministry called Power Up Alton, and proceeds from the thrift store will help residents with utility bills.
Apostle Artemese Dennis is the senior pastor at Transformers United For Christ.
“It’s a big name because we do a lot of big stuff,” she said.
The thrift store is one of many community service ministries at Transformers United. This summer, they are sponsoring a children’s camp as well as a free breakfast and lunch program for children every weekday. They also have a soup kitchen open to the public every Friday evening.
Dennis said she thought of the idea for Power Up Alton through the church paying their utilities.
“It’s a blessing when we can pay our utility bill. It just came to my mind — that’s what we want to do, keep that power going.
“We had such a big response,” she said of the program’s beginning. “The calls for help were overwhelming.”
Although she says the priority is given to Alton, Dennis said she has received calls and provided help to people in other communities as well. Month by month, Dennis said the church has had to turn people away because of lack of funds. To bring funds in for the project, Dennis thought to open a thrift store.
“I was thinking of ways to help the community and generate funds,” Dennis said.
The thrift store has gone over well so far, Dennis said. They have been given a variety of item donations and crafts to sell in the store.
“God has really blessed us — we’ve got a lot of stuff, but now we need to sell it,” Dennis said. Customers are starting to come in more often, she said, especially on Saturdays. The store includes clothes and accessories as well as furniture, craft items, knick-knacks, movies, CDs and more.
“We’ve got something for everybody,” Dennis said.
Dennis said the goal of Transformers United is simply “to help more people than we do.” Finances are the only barrier for Transformers United, Dennis said, and she is continually praying the Power Up Alton ministry will turn down fewer people as it develops.
“We want to meet the needs of the community,” Dennis said. Gifts of Love and Power Up Alton both need donations — all are tax-deductible, and besides monetary donations, Gifts of Love needs item donations. The store also needs volunteers to help with folding, cleaning, pricing, and organizing items.
“We’re here to help the community, and we need help to do that,” Dennis said.