When the ribbon is "sliced" Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at the new St. Vincent of Barnesville Thrift Store at 116 S. Gardner St., it will mark the culmination of a 37-year journey through seven downtown rental locations – one on N. Chestnut and three each on West Main and East Main streets. The past 17 of these years have been at 114 W. Main, notes board president Bill Hunkler.

The "ribbon cutting" ceremony gets underway at 1 p.m. Invited special guests include the Most Reverend Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of the Steubenville Diocese; former Assumption Church priest, Father Charles Mascolino, now 91; Dr. Paul and Sharon Ohm of Grand Rapids, MI; major project donors; members of the Barnesville Ministerial Association, and the countless volunteers who have staffed the St. Vincent of Barnesville operation for almost four decades.

Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served and tours of the new building will take place.

When the doors officially open for the new facility next Monday morning, the organization’s customers and clients will be served by a sales area that is 60 percent larger (5,570 square feet), a pantry twice the size as before, and a storage area 40 percent larger.

For 37 years, this all volunteer organization has accepted donations of clothing and household items that are cleaned and sold to the public for a nominal price. From the beginning, the all-volunteer operation has one mission – to help those less fortunate.

Profits from sales are used to purchase food from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank located in Grove City. "Quality food on the cheap, with a recent focus on fruits and vegetables, Hunkler says. "Many don’t buy them because they are too expensive."

This food and donations from two local groceries and several churches forms the core of the "pantry" mission of St. Vincent of Barnesville. The organization follows Food Bank guidelines with distributions on Thursdays and Fridays

A second area where St. Vincent of Barnesville’s profits benefits the community is vouchers for those who qualify for rent, utility bills or medications.

St. Vincent of Barnesville’s positive impact on the community is impressive. The organization assists over 125 families each month with food and vouchers amounting to over $30,000 last year alone.

Thanksgiving meal vouchers, free winter coats for needy school children, and the community’s summer lunch program for kids are three special areas of support.

St. Vincent does not receive financial help in any form from any state or federal government agency or program. Store sales and donations from individuals and groups provide the foundation for the operation. The St. Vincent ecumenical project does work with the Barnesville Area Ministerial Association and other community-based organizations.

St. Vincent of Barnesville’s new facility is on land leased for 50-years at one-dollar a year from the Diocese of Steubenville.

The half-million-dollar construction project is possible due to many generous contributions including a $15,000 grant from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance in honor of company agent Bill Hunkler, who was honored with a 2017 Community Service Award. A $10,000 grant from the Smith-Goshen Rice Enrichment Fund through the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley, a building fund reserve and bank loan provide the remainder of construction costs.

Tax deductible donations to help pay the remainder of construction costs or any of the organization’s programs are gladly accepted by the 501c3 organization. Checks may be sent to: St. Vincent of Barnesville, 116 S. Gardner Street, Barnesville, OH 43713.

The move of stock and fixtures from W. Main to the new store is possible by many volunteers including Olney Friends school students, Barnesville High Key Club members and the BHS football squad, Hunkler notes.

Construction managers for the project are Swiss Valley Associates of Clarington. Contractors for the project are: Ralph Anderson (excavating), RC Clark and Son (concrete work and building), Jim Dipetro of Bethesda Electric (electrical), Carvers Plumbing (plumbing), Bee Electric (HVAC), Randy McBride (painting) and John Gordon (garage door).

Current officers of the organization are Bill Hunkler, president; Roger Deal, vice president; Fr. Dave Cornett, treasurer; Nancy Toohey, secretary. Board of directors are John Rockwell, Rev. Andy Wood, and Kay Robb. Virginia Waggle serves as store manager and Denise Bunting is pantry manager.

Regular store hours are Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 9 a.m. to Noon on Saturday. The telephone number for St. Vincent’s of Barnesville is 740-425-9438.

Parking at the new store will include five concreted spaces at the store’s front, six street spots along S. Gardner and overflow parking on the church lot next door.

See also, St. Vincent of Barnesville born out of witnessing need in today's edition.