Agape Food Pantry thrift store thriving


Donations to thrift store always welcome



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THE THRIFT STORE at the new Agape Food Pantry location at the former Pine Hill Plaza on Route 16 in West Ossipee is at least double the size of the former store. Tami Kempf of Conway browsed through displays of donated items at the store on Nov. 19. The shop is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All proceeds benefit the adjacent food pantry. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
November 21, 2013
OSSIPEE — It has been a slow process, but Agape Food Pantry and Thrift store is now settled into its new home at the former Pine Hill Plaza on Route 16 in West Ossipee.

Staffed by volunteers, the building was abuzz with activity Tuesday as shoppers browsed the thrift store. The generosity of donors was more than evident as a look through the store revealed an endless supply of good quality used items including furniture, clothing, and household items. Proceeds from the thrift store are used to offset the cost of operating the adjacent food pantry.

For years Kevin and Janna Straughan operated Agape Food Pantry from their Center Ossipee property. The morning of Oct. 14, 2010 brought a devastating fire that engulfed their barn and heavily damaged their home, killing several animals, destroying the food pantry, and rendering the couple and their children homeless. The Straughans, arguably among the most resilient people in Ossipee or in nearly any town for that matter, relied on their faith and the kindness of others to keep their mission of feeding the area's hungry on track.

The Straughans ended up buying the house next door to their leveled home, where they moved their family and now also operated a year-round farm products store. The food pantry found a home in the basement of Ossipee Valley Bible Church in West Ossipee. A used mobile home was moved to the parking lot of the church to house the thrift store. The Straughans then decided to take on another project and purchased the former Pine Hill Plaza that had been heavily damaged by fire and set to work renovating that. The project proved to be a tough one, but the list is long of volunteers and businesses that helped bring it near completion. With the thrift store now at least doubled in size from when it was housed in the mobile home, business has increased and there is plenty of room to accept donations. The thrift store is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For 14 years the Straughans and their volunteers have been making sure that hundreds of people have food to eat every month. Additionally, they distribute several hundred holiday baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are seeking specific food item donations to help fill those baskets.

Agape relies heavily on the discounted food available at NH Food Bank in Manchester to help stretch the donation dollars to feed more families. The food must be picked up, however, and without a reliable delivery vehicle Kevin said they have had to pay to rent U-Haul trucks or use personal vehicles to make the approximate 140-mile roundtrip to the Food Bank. Agape Ministries is in desperate need of a delivery truck if there is anyone in the community able to make this tax-deductible donation of a new or used truck. While they do have a delivery truck, it is old with high mileage and as with any vehicle that has surpassed its useful life, it often breaks down and is becoming more and more costly to repair.

Anyone interested in volunteering or in making a donation is asked to contact Agape at 539-4456 or Kevin Straughan directly on his cell phone at (603) 677-6826.

To make donations of food or if you or someone you know is in need of assistance with obtaining food, the food pantry is open Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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