Resale shop honors volunteers during event at Grecian Gardens.

Helping Hands Resale Shoppe held a banquet at Grecian Gardens on Friday to thank its volunteers and to celebrate five years of operations.

There were approximately 80 people in attendance, including volunteers and their spouses.

The event commemorated the causes Helping Hands supports, and volunteers shared stories about what Helping Hands has meant to them.

Since the volunteers work different schedules, Friday’s event was the first opportunity for some of them to meet one another and to learn more about the scope of contribution their efforts make.

Before dinner, Helping Hands Manager Sherry Adams delivered handwritten thank-you letters to each volunteer. 

Once dinner was underway, Small World Connections Executive Director Brent Ressler gave a presentation about how Helping Hands began along with a review of causes supported by Helping Hands volunteer efforts and what the future holds.

Ressler said early efforts hit some obstacles until the group held a rummage sale to raise funds for Crossword Cafe, which according to its website (www.crosswordcafe.net), “offers numerous programs that are designed to give students, from 13 to 18 years of age, positive options and experiences, including special Christian music concerts, tutoring programs, mentoring opportunities and counseling services.” 

Ressler said within a week of the rummage sale, Helping Hands found its downtown Chillicothe location.

After Adams expressed her interest in running the store, he said, the store opened its doors in downtown Chillicothe.

The store has since moved to 1249 N. Fourth St. and has expanded to a second location in Canton.

“God definitely opened the door — literally — and then blessed it in many ways, not the least of which is our volunteers. … We value all that God has done through you … and it’s been an awesome journey,” Ressler said. “One of the other things people ask me is how we did it. … I think a lot of times people want a formula … A plus B equals C … and in this case I don’t think it’s that easy … There are two elements that I keep going back to that I think have made Helping Hands and what you have done as volunteers to make Helping Hands a success. First … is that God accomplishes things through people (the volunteers). Your spirit of serving and helping … is communicated to people when they walk in the doors (of Helping Hands).”

The second element, Ressler said, “not only is it volunteers caring, it is the idea of sharing … this whole endeavor, for five years, hasn’t been about any one organization … we have shared our proceeds from every single week for five years with all kinds of organizations.”

Ressler said proceeds from operations at Helping Hands supports many causes in Chillicothe as well as efforts that reach globally through Small World Connections, Ressler said.

Local efforts include sports boosters for Chillicothe area schools, the Optimist Club, the Chillicothe Historical Society, the Chillicothe Community Needs, the Lions Club, Youth for Christ/Campus Life, the City Move Conference, food pantries and nutrition programs for children, and programs benefitting single mothers. 

Helping Hands helps fund scholarships, including the Altrusa Scholarship, First Friends Scholarship and Grown International Education Fund, Ressler said.

He added Helping Hands also fields a team in Relay For Life, the fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.

Global mission efforts include work done by groups and individuals in Haiti, Spain, Guatemala, Mexico and Papua New Guinea.

Other faith-based causes include Broken Arrow Ministry — which hosts archery training events — Prison Bible Ministry, Covenant Fellowship Outreach, 30 Hour Famine, Blue Ridge Community Farm, Child Evangelism Fellowship and Venture Crew 91, Ressler said.

Crossword Cafe Treasurer Carl Baker-Christopel reported the Helping Hands venture took its initial $40,000 in startup money in 2010, and over five years, turned it into $447,950 in contributions. 

Following Ressler’s presentation, volunteers shared what working at Helping Hands means to them. 

One volunteer said he grew up in Chillicothe. At times, the community helped his family when it was struggling. Volunteering at the store lets him help others in a similar and rewarding way. 

Another volunteer said after her husband passed away, working at Helping Hands helped her make new friends.

Kris Groome, one of Helping Hands’ first volunteers, said she and her husband, Steve, are missionaries with Child Evangelism Fellowship (www.cefonline.com), and they have “been blessed that part of everything that comes in on Saturday, we get a little portion of it, and that goes to our mission organization.”

Groome said Helping Hands funding helped train teachers and instructors in the Caribbean and South America, reaching millions of children worldwide. 

Adams continued the presentation, recognizing the volunteers.

Adams said, “It’s been five years since we opened that little shop downtown. Never did we imagine what God had in store for us. … We all work together to make this ministry whole and full of love.

“Without all of you, this could never work. … You are not only making a difference in Chillicothe, but around the world. … I heard it said, to the world you are one person, but to one person you may be the world.”