The percentage of people living in poverty in far west Kentucky remains above the state average. And for the past 15 years, Angels Attic Thrift Shop in Murray and the organizations it supports work to bring relief and services to those in need.
Sisters Kristen Farley and Lauren Couch were near the front of the line of people pouring into Angels Attic Thrift Shop’s parking lot for its recent 15th anniversary event. For Couch, visits to the store are a necessity. She’s a college student. And she has two growing kids, so clothes don’t last long.
“We’re a one income family. My husband works and I stay home with the two kids right now. So their clothing, the majority of it, comes from here because it’s just so much easier. Kids go through clothes so quickly. It just doesn’t make sense to go anywhere else," Couch said.
Angels Attic’s frequent sales and rotating supply of furniture, clothes, books, and household items provide an accessible shopping alternative for people like Couch.
Manager Mike Crook said the store’s mission is to support the Angels Community Clinic, which offers free dental, medical and pharmacy services for working uninsured people. Proceeds contribute to 75% of the clinic’s funding. The store recently added the Gentry House, an emergency homeless shelter in Calloway County, to their list of support organizations.
"Last year alone, we helped over 350 families to the tune of about $13,000 in valued merchandise," Crook said.
Many of the people who shop at Angels Attic also contribute to the shelves, donating items they no longer need that someone else might find useful.
Jill Burgrich of Murray said, “I would rather donate the things that I have and I’m getting rid of to somebody who’s going to use it. Somebody who really needs it. And there’s a lot of people out there who need it and are afraid to ask.”
She said she, too, would be in a tight spot if not for the store. But she's not afraid to ask for help.
Sales floor section leader Mandi Hamilton said the people she works with have helped her through some rough times over the years.
She said, "It's a reason to get up in the morning and be with my fellow employees and the volunteers, and also the community. It's just been wonderful. It's just an adopted family, and it just means a lot. And it just helps overall in every aspect, I think, of life in general."
The reciprocal nature of Angels Attic makes it possible for people whose options are limited by finances to receive the care they need at organizations like Angels Community Clinic and the Gentry House.
An estimated 23.1% of Calloway County’s population, approximately 8,015 people, live below poverty level according to census data from 2015.
Of that number, 1,470 are children living in an impoverished household. Stores like Angels Attic can provide much-needed relief, where donations often end up in the hands of the people who most need them.