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Saving the last Catholic-run thrift store in the state

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has given to Denver’s poor and needy for more than a century. Now the society is the one reaching out its hand for help.

The situation is serious for the Catholic lay organization’s thrift store at 6260 E. Colfax Avenue. The organization’s Denver Metro Council executive director Chris Strassburger is asking for help in the face of fluctuating donations and an unbearable lease that threatens to end the thrift store’s work to serve Christ through the poor.

“It’s choking us,” he said about the significant lease and property taxes the store pays. “The store is struggling.”

The store, which serves 30,000 people a year, may have to close before the end of the year. And with its closure would go the last Catholic-run thrift store in Colorado.

“Without the store, those in need have one less place to shop,” Strassburger said.

The poor and needy should have access to the store where they can redeem vouchers for clothing, household goods and furniture, he said. The vouchers are covered by the society’s parish-based conferences and the thrift store.Shoppers and thrift store workers spend time inside the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store at 6260 Colfax in Denver. The store is in danger of closing due to financial woes.

Emergency support came from The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado and Catholic Charities also came forward to expand its partnership with the society by agreeing to help with donations to the thrift store.

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The society made its own advances in March by organizing five volunteer committees to advance its mission through fundraising, training, conference development, governance and the thrift store.

Even under the financial burden, thrift store staff, volunteers and shoppers are happy with the store—almost enthusiastic.

“This store truly represents St. Vincent de Paul,” said shopper Berryl Small of Denver.

She comes almost daily to look for bargains and vintage goods, something that’s harder to find at other stores.

“The people are also very friendly,” she said. “I know there are people here who are truly in need.”

Other shoppers liked the renewed feeling inside the store after its move from an older location on Colfax Avenue. The store boasted of uniform prices on clothing,  even those with a designer labe,l and a large book collection that would beat any shop.

Since migrating from Africa, Rachel Pyne of Denver said she was brought there for help with her needs.

“I get all my clothes here,” she said.

Gail Suhr, a volunteer from Denver, said she loves to work with the public. She decided to join the store because of her father’s dedication to the organization.

“Every time I come, it’s a little different. It’s kind of fun,” she said. “Everybody is really nice that works here.”

Strassburger suggested ways the community can help to keep the thrift store open and help serve the poor (see below).

“They’re the face of Christ,” he said about the poor. “It’s our duty and obligation to help them.”


How to Help St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store
The last Catholic-run thrift store in the state founded in the 1950s and started by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who arrived in Colorado in 1878.

Donate: online through www.coloradogives.org.
Make check payable to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Denver Metro Council; mail to 2250 S. Harrison St., Denver, CO 80210. Or leave a donation in a Catholic church’s poor box.
Give: gently used household items, electronics and clothing to an area parish with an SVdP conference. Vehicles may also be donated by calling 1-800-322-8284.
Shop: at the thrift store at 6260 E. Colfax Ave., Denver.
Volunteer: at the thrift store by calling 303-388-3315 or at your local parish’s SVDP conference. Find the list of conferences at http://svdpden.org.
Participate: in the society’s annual fundraiser “Friends of the Poor Walk” 8:30 a.m. Sept. 20 at Our Lady of Loreto Church, 18000 E. Arapahoe Road, Foxfield.


St. Vincent de Paul Society’s ‘No-Show Gala’
Help the society raise funds during its gala without a time or date.
When: in the next 30-days or so
RSVP: by making a donation
How: Visit www.coloradogives.org and search for “Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”
Or mail in a check to the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Metro Council address above.



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