November 3rd turned out to be a wonderful day to fight slavery, as this was the date Hope Thrift chose to donate 100% of their proceeds to the Richmond Justice Initiative. Perhaps it was advertising, word of mouth, or the 70+ degree weather that felt more like May than November…Whatever the case, shoppers flocked to the thrift store in droves and filled their carts with enough goods to equal $3,800, making RJI’s ministry day the largest ministry day Hope Thrift has ever had!
For those who are unaware, Hope Thrift is a ministry of Hope Church that is run by volunteers—many of whom attend Hope Church. When asked what made her initially decide to become a Hope Thrift volunteer, Nancy McDonald happily replied, “I came here to volunteer but didn’t realize how much fun I would have or the blessings that God has graced us with.” I don’t think Nancy could have been more correct in her statement. For, as I stood listening to her and other thrift store volunteers share some of their stories of hope with me it became quite evident that this place was a light in the community. From helping out teenagers who needed to fulfill their high school volunteer credits to helping lower income families afford nice things, Hope Thrift was living up to its name and offering people hope.
Dedicated RJI volunteers came out to show their support in their own way, whether it was by donating items, shopping, or greeting and educating shoppers about RJI and the issue of human trafficking. Amy Keithley was one such volunteer. When asked what made her decide to spend her Saturday at Hope Thrift, Amy replied “Today networking has been very important and building personal relationships with others who share the same passion to combat human trafficking.” I was one such person that was blessed to make the acquaintance of Amy, a friendly and enthusiastic young woman with a heart to make a difference. As she and I shared our reasons for volunteering with RJI, I noticed something. My own hope that I could make a difference in the anti-human trafficking movement grew. “Why was this?” I wondered. As I thought about this rising of hope within, I saw the light—Amy’s light. As she shared her passion to help others and expressed how she could not just sit back and not do anything while the issue of human trafficking went on in our own community, she further inspired me to continue fighting for justice.
In a dark world, we must remember we are a light. It can be easy to shrink back from the cave of despair we sometimes find ourselves faced with as we read horrific stories of young people trapped in the vicious web of human trafficking and don’t have the slightest clue how we can help. However, if we can continue to reach through the darkness armed with our own little light—if we can simply keep pressing on even when the world sends us messages that the problem is too huge—I believe we will find helping hands that are also reaching out to inspire us to make a difference. Each one of us holds a light that can shine hope into the lives of others. As we join forces with one another, the flame of change can only grow stronger and brighter. On November 3rd, two strong lights in the Richmond community joined together and a difference was made. “Well done, RJI and Hope Thrift volunteers. Well done.” ~ Amanda Conrad