Local nonprofit Sam's Attic Eclectic Thrift is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in Beaverton.
Sam's Attic started as an annual garage sale in Lake Oswego and has since become a 6,000-square-foot store that serves over 450 customers every month. The thrift store, however, is part of something much bigger.
Proceeds from Sam's Attic go to Good Samaritan Ministries' Uganda program, supporting GSM International schools and orphanages in the country.
GSM Uganda currently serves over 1,500 children in schools and 300 in orphan homes around the country, supporting them with housing, meals, education and other faith-based projects.
Sam's Attic is just one of GSM Uganda's fundraisers, but it's by far the satellite team's biggest. All workers at the store are volunteers, all goods are donated and other that direct operating expenses, all proceeds go to the GSM program.
GSM Uganda support team director Patty Pullen said she's visited Uganda 15 times to see the other side of the program, and she'll go back this fall. Her team works closely with the staff there, and Pullen said she hears wonderful stories about the program's impact.
"We've got teachers that were former students, doctors and nurses that are former students," Pullen said, "and there's amazing things that we're a part of that we don't even know we're a part of that are going on because of the funding that we've been able to help with and the support and prayers that we've been able to give."
Most of Pullen's team members have been around for years, but Elsa Jane Weislogel has been around from the start.
Weislogel has been involved with the Uganda program for over 32 years — even longer than Pullen. GSM founder Bettie Mitchell got the program running in 1990, and Weislogel became the leader of the team that year.
The team's leadership was passed down to Pullen, but Weislogel has remained involved since. Now, she's usually pricing and sorting inventory.
"(The program is) huge, but you can't ever see the whole thing. You have to become part of it to understand it and to be lifted up by it, Weislogel said. "It's an incredible work."
Weislogel and the rest of the team became "fast friends," she said. Not only are she and her teammates supporting people over in Uganda, but they're supporting each other.
"We literally support each others' lives. This is far deeper than just thrift," Weislogel said.
As the self-proclaimed "elder of the crowd," Weislogel could easily step down and say she doesn't have the strength or stamina to keep working at the thrift store.
"But I don't do that. And the reason I don't do that is, I go to the thrift store to have my life supported," she said. "It's a fabulous endeavor. It's just an amazing thing that I think has come out of the hand of the Lord. … The spirit of the place is wonderful. People come there because they just enjoy being there with us."
Sam's Attic store manager Linda McNulty agreed: "It's a great community. It really does have a worldwide outreach by just donating some of your gently used stuff here in Beaverton."
GSM Uganda hosted a parking lot sale at a church in Lake Oswego for nine years before even opening a thrift store, Pullen said. The team opened Sam's Attic in 2012 in Sellwood before relocating to Beaverton in January 2019.
The community's response has always been positive. At the original sale, someone even donated a Jaguar car.
Now, Pullen has about 150 people on her mailing list locally and across the world. The program has monthly donors through its website, along with many other sources of funds from individuals, events and more.
Pullen said kids have held lemonade stands or sold cookies while their parents hosted a garage sale to raise money.
Barbara Davis, who currently works with Weislogel pricing and sorting merchandise, started an annual Tea & Fashion Show fundraiser and is hosting a garage sale at her home with things that haven't sold from Sam's Attic.
"It's such a good program that I plan to just keep going until they throw me out," Davis laughed. "It's a good program. The kids (in Uganda) are so excited about it. I get thank-yous from kids I've never met."
Sam's Attic Eclectic Thrift is located at 7901 S.W. Cirrus Drive, Building 27, in Beaverton. It's a little tucked away at the Parkside Business Center off Southwest Hall Boulevard, but as McNulty said: It's worth it.
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