Store Owner Finds A Way To Give Back To Her Community

By: Marie Luby Email
By: Marie Luby Email

Some eastern Kentuckians find a way to save money on clothes & household items and help feed hungry kids at the same time.

As gas and food prices rise, more and more people in Owsley County are turning to a local thrift store to stretch their cash.

WYMT’s Marie Luby visited the store's owner to find out why the benefit is two-fold.

Owsley County Outreach Volunteers run what's known as 'The Mall' in Booneville.

It started with a little bit of cash, and one woman's need to do something about a problem she saw every day.

Cleda Turner says she grew up poor in Owsley County, and counted on her community to help her family make ends meet.

It's why nothing in her Booneville thrift store costs more than ten dollars.

“When I was growing up, school, church, the community was the backbone,” Turner said.

Donations from churches and Masonic temples are the backbone of this store.

Even the space in this basement is donated.

Turner says every penny goes toward a backpack program to feed more than 100 kids in Owsley County.

She got the idea from a friend, after she noticed a disturbing trend at the elementary school where she worked.

“I noticed that the kids were coming in and they were just gorging themselves with both hands and they couldn't wait to get through the breakfast line. So I asked and I was told a lot of these kids eat lunch Friday and don't eat again until they came back to breakfast Monday morning,” Turner said.

She started two years ago with 200 dollars out of her own pocket and now depends on the store and private grants to send food packages home with kids even during the summer.

Turner says she doesn't feel like she's giving back; she says she's just doing what God called her to do.

“I mean I was going to retire and sit on my porch and rock, and then I started this and it was like a slap in the face, you know, 'wake up girl. you're doing this for me,” Turner said.

Turner is grateful for the help she had as a child.

She says people who donate or shop here, are helping her pay it forward.

It wasn't easy getting the project off the ground.

Cleda Turner says they didn't have heat or air conditioning for the first year the store was open.

Now they're already outgrowing it, and Turner is writing more grant requests while they look for a bigger place.

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