RICHMOND – A new downtown thrift store aims to help local people meet their most basic needs — clothing, food and heat — while giving others with more clothing than they need a chance to get rid of it and help the cause.

The House of Richmond, at 52 Main St., sells all manner of “gently used” clothing and shoes, but it doesn’t plan to profit from those sales or even use the proceeds to pay its staff. That’s because its staff is made up entirely of volunteers.

Its net profit, if and when it makes one, will go into a local fuel assistance fund to help local poor residents heat their homes; and to the Richmond Food Pantry, which regularly distributes food to area residents in need.

The thrift store was hatched by a group of residents, the Friends of Richmond, who were looking for a way to help people in need in the community.

Keli Terry, who works at the Richmond Utilities District, said the need for help became apparent to her, in part, while she was processing bills at work and seeing how some people were struggling to pay their bills.

Terry said she saw a need and went to a friend, the Rev. Gayle Holden, a Methodist minister, to talk about ways to help, and together they decided to start the Friends of Richmond.

“We wanted to raise funds for fuel assistance and the food bank,” Terry said. “It’s going well so far. We’re getting lots of donations, so every week the store fills back up again. We’re packed to the brim. That’s a good thing.”

However, the store, which opened during Richmond Days festivities at the end of July, has yet to turn a profit and has been unable to contribute to the food bank or the heating assistance fund.

“We haven’t made a net profit yet. Right now we’re just maintaining the rent,” Terry said. “We hope things will pick up in the next six months.”

Town Manager Marian Anderson, an organizer and volunteer at the store, said the Dresden-Richmond United Methodist Church provided seed money to get the store started. She said the store is a partnership involving the town, local churches and residents and businesses.

Voters at the annual town meeting approved spending $5,000 in town funds to help the local food bank. Voters at that meeting also approved $2,000 for an emergency assistance program for residents, which can be used to provide money to buy heating fuel in emergencies. Anderson said she hopes those needs eventually can be met through efforts such as the thrift store without a town appropriation.

“Our goal is to be able to take (funding for heating and food assistance) off the tax rolls and have it be self-supporting,” Anderson said. “It’s a lofty goal, but we’re giving it a good try.”

Anyone who wants to volunteer, donate clothing or help in some other way can visit the store or leave a message on the House of Richmond’s Facebook page, Terry said.

Donations can be deposited into yellow boxes at the store, at the Town Office and at the holding area on Lincoln Street.

A fundraising event starting at noon Sunday — the Richmond Cornhole Bean Bag Championship — also will benefit the fuel assistance fund and the Richmond Food Pantry. The event will take place at the Old Goat pub on Main Street.

During the contest the pub will donate $1 for every beverage sold.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]