KINGMAN - The first chill of autumn blew through Kingman over the last several days, and while the temperature is expected to rise by week's end, the glimpse it provided at the winter to come has been unmistakable.
Nowhere is this more evident than at 218 Beale St., home to the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. Over the last few days, Marlene Tidwell, president of the church's St. Mary's conference, has seen a definite swell in the number of poor and disadvantaged souls filing through the door, looking for a way to keep themselves and their families warm over the next several months.
"With the recent cold snap and because of the economy and what's happening, we're getting more and more people," Tidwell said. "When it starts getting cold like it did, that's when people really start coming in, especially homeless."
St. Vincent's thrift store is a modest affair but one capable of making a big difference at a time when job losses and rising foreclosures have forced families to cut costs in any way they can.
Everything in the store, from clothing and food to furniture and appliances, is either donated or purchased by St. Vincent's unpaid volunteers and offered to the public at a miniscule cost - if any - which is then reincorporated into the thrift store's other side, client services.
"Most of our stuff is a dollar, unless it's brand new," Tidwell said. "Anything you give stays right here in Kingman.
"The more money we can make, the more we can help clients who come in," Tidwell said.
St. Vincent's client services office in the same building uses the funds to help the needy in a variety of ways, including direct assistance with free food boxes and full bags of clean clothing, and limited help with prescriptions and utility payments.
"We've been seeing that a lot more since the rates have gone up on utilities," Tidwell said. "We try with utilities, but we can only do so much. It's getting more difficult, but we just keep going along."
Client services provides vouchers for up to $50 at Dave's Appliances just down the street and up to eight KART tickets per person each month. Volunteers have a jail ministry as well, which can be of vital assistance to people who get arrested in Bullhead City or Lake Havasu and find themselves without a means of returning upon being freed from the Kingman jail.
"We help them get back home," Tidwell said. "We even supply them with clothing, because often when they get out, they don't have any."
Client services also means providing an ear and a friendly face to those who need someone to talk to. Many a St. Vincent volunteer has taken time away from the register or the phone to talk or pray with someone who has just lost their job or doesn't know how they're going to pay the bills. In situations when it's easy to feel downtrodden or powerless, Tidwell said, it's important to remind people not to give up.
Like so many others, St. Vincent's realizes all too well how limited their own resources are. They can't help clients with rent payments or gasoline, and there are some high-demand items, such as mattresses and warm coats, they can never seem to keep in stock.
St. Vincent's volunteers and generous donors make every effort they can to help. "Food we will never, ever say no to. If they need to get to the doctor, we have to help them," she said.
St. Vincent de Paul's Thrift Store is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The client services office is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To inquire about making a donation or volunteering, call (928) 753-4399. To inquire about assistance with food, utility payments or other services, call (928) 753-6449.
Clients and volunteers are welcome, regardless of faith.