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Thrifty locals lend a hand for families in need

By Nick Ramsey, For The Miami Student

Shopping affordably benefits the wallets of an entire community at the Family Resource Center Thrift Store.

All proceeds fund Family Resource Center programs that are working to build a stronger community by helping move clients out of poverty, making the thrift store much more than a place to find an outfit for the next themed party.

"When six guys get out of a car at the thrift store there is only one mission," thrift store manager Rory Uhler said.

The mission of The Family Resource Center and its programs is to "Promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families in the Talawanda School District."

Last year, 331 individuals worked to help complete their mission by volunteering 7,249 hours for the Family Resource Center.

The Family Resource Center has some marketing and funding challenges to overcome in order to help more people in need.

"Trying to make the community aware of what we are doing is a challenge," Family Resource Center Executive Director Diane Ruther-Vierling said.

The Family Resource Center has been working with PR Visions, a student-run public relations firm, to help get some publicity for their major events like ShareFest Oxford.

ShareFest Oxford is a service event that occurs at the end of each academic year. Last year 242 volunteers worked to collect items donated by Miami University students. The event was so successful that they were able to donate the majority of clothes to the Salvation Army because the thrift store could not handle all of the donations.

According to Uhler, they need a bigger store for the 2,112 bags of donated clothing, but the small location has some benefits.

"We can afford to be very selective about what we bring in. We have a lot of name brand stuff," he said.

The thrift store needs students to run the cash register and sort clothes, but there are many other options for volunteers.

"Every hour someone volunteers frees me up for an hour to work here in the office," Uhler said.

The Family Resource Center could also use interns to work with clients, develop an online store, help with their social media sites, and other marketing strategies. These positions would require at least a semester commitment because of the training they require.

"Anyone who wants to work for us can work here because we have a lot of needs," Ruther-Vierling said.

Oxford Works, a recently started program, mentors people in need of jobs by providing resume prep, interview practice, GED classes and other basic employment skills.

They work closely with employers like Miami University, Hueston Woods and Cash Flow Solutions to place people in jobs and achieve self-sustainability.

The Community Garden, another resource center program, grows two crops a year that go to the food pantry and local churches. It also provides agricultural education to local youth. Pre-school children often take field trips to the Community Garden in the summer.

The Family Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 5445 College Corner Pike, about a mile from Uptown Oxford on the left.