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A prominent Southeast church widens the circlie of those served by one of its charitable efforts

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - At the Mustard Seed Thrift Store in Woodstock, David Groff brings lightly used athletic shoes to All Saints volunteers Sonja Miller and Micky Keiter - for them to add to St. Francis Closet. People without a home or car can spend a lot of time out in the elements, walking from one destination to another. Shoes wear out, and may be difficult to replace, but in the Woodstock neighborhood there is a place that has free shoes for those in need.

The all-volunteer-run Mustard Seed Thrift Store in the basement of All Saints' Episcopal Church, 4033 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, has set aside a room, called "St. Francis Closet". In this room are clothes, shoes, and socks donated by church members or neighbors – and they are reserved for those who cannot afford to pay for such things. Some of the people who eat at the "hospitality meal" upstairs on Saturdays stop by the thrift store afterwards.

A recent big donor of shoes to the Mustard Seed was the coach of a Portland running club called "Team Red Lizard". Coach Rick Lovett says that "serious runners" don't wear their shoes for very long, because they require the soles and shoe infrastructure to perform at a demanding level. Consequently, many of the shoes appear to be in very good shape.

Lovett, who is a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church – by coincidence the same church that Woodstock resident David Groff attends – gives the excess shoes to Groff to take to Operation Nightwatch, where Groff serves on the Board. (Nightwatch is an organization that provides a "hospitality living room" experience in a downtown church three evenings a week for people who are "houseless" or are living in low-income hotels or housing downtown.)

However, so many bags of shoes have been donated there each month that Groff has started donating some of the excess to the Mustard Seed Thrift Store for "St. Francis Closet". The items in this room also include blankets and toiletries.

Woodstock resident and All Saints' member Sonja Miller helps organize the Mustard Seed Book Nook, and coordinates with Deacon Kathleen Borsch to stock "St. Francis Closet". Miller says, "The shoes are a great gift for those who can't afford to buy shoes."

Occasionally some pairs of shoes end up in the Mustard Seed's general store, where prices are very inexpensive. All profits from such sales are used for church and community service projects.

The "Mustard Seed" hours are Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The entrance is at the basement door on the west side of the church – S.E. 41st and Woodstock Boulevard.


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