Christmas In July Comes to Pickens Thrift Store
7/12/2021 ~ by Suellen Reitz
Seeing someone wearing a Santa hat in the middle of summer may seem a bit odd for most folks, but for Terry Bishop, aka “Sarge”, the General Manager of Pickens County Community Thrift Store, it’s just part of the planning to promote the first ever Christmas In July event for the store. “This is for the community. My goal is to make it a fun day for everyone and get more presence in the community. I put the idea out there and folks here are running with it. Everyone here is like family. We’re all volunteers here because we believe in what we do”, spoke Bishop.
That belief is part of the 20 year history of the Pickens Thrift Store. Over the years, close to 10 million dollars have been given back to the community. Bishop explains…“God has blessed our ministry here. The money we raise in sales from the generous donations of our community goes out in grants to the numerous non profit organizations. Our conservative goal is to give $80,000 a quarter to those applying. This year’s slogan says it all… “Giving Millions To Thousands.” We are able to do all of this because of our great volunteers. If someone has 4 hours a month to help, I want them… if they can give us 4 hours a week, I’ll love them!”
Paulette McKennzie, the assistant general manager emphasized the importance of the store volunteers. “We lost many of our long time volunteers due to COVID, so we have a lot of new blood. I’m one of them. I had always come here to shop and one day, someone just asked me to help…and I’ve been here ever since. That’s how we get most of our volunteers, getting to know our shoppers and developing a relationship.”
John and Evelyn Padgett have taken the lead in getting this set up. Both volunteers for over 6 years with the store, they help because they know the store really does care about Pickens County. “We live in Cherokee County, but they don’t have anything like what we do here,” spoke Evelyn. “We’re telling everyone we know about this. So far, we’ve put in over 150 hours getting it together, but it’s worth it.”
The idea started with a vision for Sarge. “I saw myself selling Christmas stuff in a tent in the heat. We have been getting so much Christmas decor in our donations, it seemed to be a good way to bring more folks together,” he continued.That original thought has grown into an event that Bishop hopes will become a Pickens County tradition.
A huge tent will be set up behind the thrift store to house the Christmas themed items that include decorations, trees, household goods, clothing, toys and more. Something for everyone can be found at great prices. The store, located at 110 Samaritan Drive, will also be open the normal hours of 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.for bargain shoppers but the Christmas sale on July 17 will have the hours extended to 8:00-2:00 to make sure everyone has time to find their special treasures. But that’s not all you’ll find…
Santa and his free toys for the kids will be there in his summer attire greeting everyone with his jolly nature and posing for the camera to prove he really does exist. Played by Jasper resident Rick Cash, our Santa is excited about seeing the kids in person. “I’ve often thought about playing Santa, especially since I grew my beard. This is a great opportunity to try it out. I’m really looking forward to handing out the toys to all the kids,” spoke Cash with a chuckle. Santa will be onsite at 10:00 so keep your eyes peeled for the approaching reindeer. While waiting, kids can have fun in the blow up bouncing dome or have a hand at the corn hole toss while parents shop
Shopping can make one hungry, so take advantage of the hot dog cookout while there. The grill will be fired up ready to go at 11:00. Snow cones will also be available to enjoy and live music starting at noon will be playing to entertain.
Glory Bound Quartet, a southern gospel group which started in 2020 will perform from noon till 1:00. The local group from surrounding communities performs to raise funds through love offerings to support children from Pickens and Cherokee counties in foster care programs with gifts for Christmas, birthday and school expenses. They also support an orphanage in Peru. The second band performing till everyone is gone is called SIRF which stands for Stuck In Right Field. These guys from Jasper have fun with music from the 70’s and 80’s. that’s sure to have you wanting to dance a jig.
Onsite, folks will get to see up close two antique fire trucks, one being an antique part of Damon and Monica Wisdom’s “Fire & Ice” set up on their Big Red Truck. The second truck, owned by Bill Cain, will be part of Jasper’s 4th of July parade featuring Santa and all his helpers. Also there will be a police squad car for those who always wanted to see one up close.
Everyone who comes will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win a fabulous prize, either a gift certificate for free items in the sale, or something from one of our great supporters in the community. A drawing will be made every 30 minutes. Folks can up their chances to win with more purchases. Every $10 will get them another ticket.
A great day for the entire family is waiting for you so mark your calendars now. July 17 8:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.at the Pickens Community Thrift Store located at 110 Samaritan Drive is where it’s happening. Christmas In July is something you don’t want to miss! See you there!