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Open Door Thrift Shop accepting donations for Turkey


SEDALIA — Open Door Thrift Store is accepting donations for the Turkish earthquake victims in a humanitarian effort to bring comfort amid the devastation. The first shipment of 1,000 blankets and shoes left Feb. 1, and two additional shipments will leave within the next two weeks.

Open Door Manager Mary Spalding said the organization has partnered with United Volunteers in St. Louis, and the donated items will travel by cargo plane from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Turkey. In April, they will send additional items by cargo ship, which will take around five weeks to arrive. Spalding noted they need donations of blankets, diapers, and hygiene items.

She found out about the United Volunteers’ project by accident.

“We also recycle shoes,” she noted. “And for some odd reason, that program just went by the wayside. I called Mr. Bill (Stanley) and said, ‘do you recycle shoes?’ And he said, ‘yes, we do.’”

She asked him where he was recycling the shoes, and he mentioned the earthquakes in Turkey. He added he needed blanket donations. After learning about the need, Spalding was on her computer at 5:30 a.m., creating a post on Facebook asking for blankets.

The news soon reached reporter Julie Coharik at KOMU in Columbia, who interviewed Spalding and Stanley about the project. Due to the news story, donations started rolling in.

“People have been so gracious,” Spalding said. “There’s handmade quilts, handmade blankets from (Sedalia), St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia. So, now we have points of contact everywhere to pick up and head to Cincinnati.”

The first shipment flew out of Chicago, but the shipping cost was $2,000. Spalding said when Coharik found out the price, she called her father, the executive director at a station in Cincinnati, who said they would cover the cost of the cargo planes.

Stanley, the United Volunteers executive director, said by phone on Friday that the organization has been around for a long time, but it’s evolved with whatever needs arise.

“Since the Turkish earthquake happened, it just struck home,” he noted. “Because years ago, I used to be in the airfreight business, and now I export clothing.

“So, I thought with my experience in airfreight and my experience exporting clothing, I should be able to get some stuff over there,” he continued. “So, we just went to work very quickly, as soon as the earthquake happened….”

He added the goal of United Volunteers is to collect 10,000 blankets.

Spalding noted she and her team are “overwhelmed with joy” to be part of the project.

“We are such a small part of it, but the smallest can make the biggest impact for sure,” she added.

Spalding said the community could help by donating diapers, blankets, and personal hygiene products. She added the American Red Cross and the Turkish Red Crescent Society distribute the items once they arrive in the country.

“Our recycling program usually ships all of our products through Bill to Kenya,” she noted. “Those are not being sent to Kenya — they are going straight to Turkey.

“Their number count is over 50,000 have perished,” she continued. “And tens of thousands of buildings have been destroyed. (Bill) said this is the biggest humanitarian crisis, which includes homelessness. People are afraid to stay in any kind of building, so it’s kind of a tent city going on right now. Just like Bill said, can you imagine Columbia, Springfield, and St. Louis demolished? I can’t wrap my head around it.”

Spalding added she is pleased to have staff at Open Door who recognize the needs of others.

“There’s a lot of love in our little building,” she noted. “We were just born to see the need in people, I think. Because we have so many different walks of life here … we can sit down and discuss so many things.

“But at the end, it all comes down to love and to helping people,” she continued. “It’s just incredible.”

Donations of blankets, diapers, and hygiene products for the Turkey earthquake victims will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at Open Door Thrift Store, 612 S. Hancock Ave. For more information, visit the Open Door Thrift Store Facebook page.