Brownwood's Good Samaritan Ministries Donation Center marks successful first year
At Good Samaritan Ministries’ Donation Center, about a half-dozen staff and volunteers worked at Good Samaritan Ministries' Donation Center, busily sorting items including clothing, shoes and toys Monday afternoon.
The men and woman at the Donation Center, located at 200 W. Chandler in downtown Brownwood, maintained a stream of happy conversation as they worked.
“Let’s see what kind of toys are in this here.”
“What’s in here … beads!”
"This is going to be a record day."
The Donation Center, housed in a facility that served several purposes in previous years, is marking its one-year anniversary.
Every few minutes Monday afternoon, another vehicle pulled into the drive-through donation portico outside the building. A staff member or volunteer walked outside to greet each vehicle’s occupants and collect the items being donated.
At 2:30 p.m., the 40th vehicle of the day arrived. The center was on a pace to beat its previous single-day record of 43 vehicles.
Becky Warren, the Donation Center’s manager, made note of stuffed animals and even some pom-poms that had been donated.
“We are blessed, blessed, blessed today,” Warren said.
Donation Center's large role
Leesa Stephens, executive director Good Samaritan Ministries said the Donation Center is an important part of GSM’s Resale Store Ministry.
The Donation Center opened Jan. 15, 2020 and accepts and processes non-food donations for Good Samaritan, also known as GSM. The center handles and sorts more than 50,000 pounds of items such as clothing, linens, shoes and housewares each month, Stephens said.
Staff and volunteers unload an average of 30 cars each day. While the majority of donated items make their way into the GSM Resale Store, items not used locally are shared with other charities, specifically Charity Shoes, an international relief organization from Dallas and Arms of Hope supporting the Medina Children’s Home, Stephens said.
“The Donation Center has greatly expanded the reach and the vision of the Resale Store,” Stephens said via email. “Beginning with Good Samaritan’s first director Angelia Bostick, there has always been a vision of the many different ways that the Resale Store could benefit families in Brown County.”
Throughout its year of operating, the Donation Center has increased its efficiency of accepting and sorting donations. That means items get into the Resale Store sooner and thus into the hands of the people who need those items, Stephens said.
She said items accepted at the Donation Center and sold in the Resale Store are affordable to the community.
“Only gently used and gently worn items make it to our racks and shelves,” Stephens said. “Many of these items carry designer labels and well-known brands. We price items with very low prices. A family can outfit their children for school in the same brands that their classmates are wearing.”
Stephens said proceeds from the Resale Store help fund agency programs.
Every dollar spent in the store goes back into the operation of GSM's seven hunger programs and financial assistance programs, Stephens said.
“Shoppers who like to focus on value can know that while they are shopping and saving money, they are also supporting a great cause with their dollars staying here in Brown County to help friends and neighbors in need,” Stephens said.
She said GSM pays sales tax on purchases in the Resale Store, thereby supporting the City of Brownwood.
Good neighbor policy
Stephens listed the reasons for creating the Donation Center:
- Safety concerns topped the list as the Board considered moving donation intake to a separate location.
- GSM workers as well as those stopping to donate items often conducted transactions in the middle of a busy street. Moving that process out of traffic was going to be safer for everyone.
- Moving the donation intake off the sidewalk would help GSM be a good neighbor to other businesses in downtown Brownwood by keeping the sidewalks cleaner and free from clutter, Stephens said.
- Moving the donation bins to the Donation Center also encouraged people to put donations in the bins and not leave bags and boxes on the sidewalk after hours.
- Texas weather made donation intake brutal during certain times of the year, Stephens said. The Donation Center has a covered drop-off area keeping staff, volunteers and donors out of the extremes of wind, rain, heat and cold.
- Finally, moving the donation center to the Chandler property freed up work space in the Resale Store back room for pricing items, hanging clothing, testing appliances and so forth
Donation Center history
The building purchased by GSM in 2011 had once been a print shop and later housed a taxi depot. Over the years, staff and board members discussed possible uses for the building, but no formal plans were developed.
The transformation from a storage facility to Donation Center began during a 2019 January training day for GSM’s board of directors. Board members visited the property to brainstorm how to better use the space, Stephens said.
In 2019, the board began to see a vision of how creating a specific Donation Center could help Good Samaritan in several ways, Stephens said.
Renovation of the property began in June 2019. Tunnell Construction was the general contractor. Double Diamond Iron and Woodwork put a metal wrap around the cinderblock structure. Grimsley Electric rewired the building and installed outdoor lighting. Weldon Wilson Electric did additional wiring in the warehouse area of the building. Jones Carpet installed flooring in the office area.
“We are so fortunate that Angelia Bostick and the Board of Directors in 2011 had the vision to purchase this property,” Stephens said. “Real estate is expensive today as is new construction. They positioned us to be able to move forward with the Donation Center at a much lower cost than if we were building from the ground up.”
Volunteers, always an integral part of the work of Good Samaritan Ministries, assisted in putting the final touches on the Donation Center. The Brownwood Community Church youth group helped sort the donations stored in the building.
Students from Howard Payne University’s Project SWARM power washed the floors, shelves and other equipment in the building. Volunteers from Texas Bank and the City of Brownwood painted the interior walls. Board members donated plumbing and construction talents.
Warren was hired in December 2019 as the manager for the Donation Center. She continues in that role today leading staff and volunteers as they sort and organize donations.
The Donation Center is open five days each week. Staff members are available from noon-5 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday and 8 a.m. -1 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to assist in unloading donations.
Bins are available for after-hours convenience, but the staff loves to assist during regular business hours. If donors want a receipt for tax purposes, GSM can provide that, Stephens said.
For questions about the kind of items the Donation Center accepts, call 325-203-5284.