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Church gets creative with pop-up thrift store

Tamaqua residents typically have a chance to enjoy the rummage sale at the Zion Lutheran Church.

Yes, things are a bit different this year. But that doesn’t mean it’s not just as good - if not better.

Behind a dedicated outreach committee, the church has adapted to host a pop-up thrift store this week through Friday.

“A lot of churches have had to be really creative during COVID-19,” said pastor Cindy White. “This is just one of the ways that this church has done this. We’ve done rummage sales every year. This year, we decided that we were going to take really quality merchandise and tag everything individually and run it for five days, instead of just two.”

The pop-up shop has plenty to offer: books, toys, household items and a ton of quality clothing.

“For all churches, it’s important for us to see the need of the community. One of the needs that people need here is clothing,” White said. “Also household items and different things that are affordable.

“The idea came from our outreach committee. We wanted to do something different. This took two months to set up with a handful of people going through every piece of clothing hanging it up, separating by the size.”

White said there were 112 shoppers at Zion on Monday.

There are markings on the floor to show shoppers where to browse, which ensures safe socially distanced shopping. Consumers seem to flow comfortably throughout the venue.

“We get all kinds of people here,” said Judy Brennan, who wanted to give credit to all of the volunteers who helped. “It blesses my heart to see everyone. Catering to people less fortunate to you is a blessing and makes your heart feel amazing.”

There is still delicious food available.

There is no dine-in option, but plenty of tasty choices to pack up and take home. The church received generous donations from many.

For example, 15 gallons of raw material for chicken noodle soup and over 10 gallons for tomato basil were donated through The Summit, a senior living community in Delaware, which Tamaqua native Sonia Brode works at.

“I am the a.m. person for four dining rooms, and I told my residents about it,” Brode said. “They thought it was great. People were literally handing me $20 bills. … They said your hands and feet are working, ours aren’t, and that they all used to contribute in their communities. When I told them that I was traveling up here, 115 miles to do the food for this, they were elated. This community is very generous on what they do.”

Brode put in about 20 hours of food work in Tamaqua.

She led the charge to make 56 dinners that contained turkey, stuffing and sweet potato. There are baked ziti dinners, pork barbecue and much more. And of course, dessert.

“Normally we have the little cafe here, and they get a plate, and they pay $7 and they would leave,” Brode said. “But we had to figure it out. I said let’s get the little foil containers, put a whole meal in it and pack it. The turnout has been fabulous. … It speaks to your soul when you come back to a place and you’re able to give back.”

Masks are required and social distancing will be maintained by allowing 20-25 shoppers in the store at any one time.

Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. Cash and major credit cards are accepted. No personal checks. Kitchen menu is cash only.

Ralph Derr, one of the heads of the culinary team, assists shoppers with food sales at Zion. JUSTIN CARLUCCI/TIMES NEWS