When a man from Hoonah lost everything he had to theft while visiting Juneau, Capt. Jack Smith, a corps officer with the Juneau Salvation Army, helped him find a new set of clothes, including a hat and coat, in the downtown thrift store.
Everything was given to the man free of charge, said Smith, who tells the story as a small example of the many ways in which the organization helps people in Juneau.
The Salvation Army thrift store is a well-known source for inexpensive household items and clothing, but all those minute charges add up to pay for other programs such as youth camps and food donations given throughout the community all year.
The store raises about $225,000 annually, according to advisory board member Cathy Muñoz.
"You can imagine that's a lot of one-dollar and five-dollar items," Muñoz said.
A new store opening at the end of the year is expected to raise even more funds, because room for retail items will triple in the new space located next door to the store on Willoughby Avenue.
A ground-breaking ceremony Friday kicked off the $1.6 million project, which is expected to be completed in December.
Breaking ground on the 6,000-square-foot building marks an important step in a project that has been in the planning stages for six years. About 40 people attended the event at the new location on Friday afternoon.
"It is one burden that has been lifted," Smith said. "It's another step in the whole process of having a beautiful new store."
The one-story building constructed by North Pacific Erectors of Juneau will have a beige marble front with lime green trim and a bright red roof, Smith said. The interior will be "light and airy," he said, with modern signs to help people find items.
The new space is needed since the staff has difficulty sorting and displaying items in the current 2,100-square-foot space that has only a small storage room that measures 10 by 15 feet.
New retail space will measure 4,500 feet, and include a "Better Than" area for high-end clothing and collectibles. There also will be room for more furniture and large household items, potentially adding to the store's income, Muñoz said.
Initially receiving an unenthusiastic response from the organization's state and national leadership, the advisory board in Juneau was relentless in its pursuit of the new store, Muñoz said.
They purchased the land three years ago and received approval for a loan two months ago to build the new store.
Fundraising efforts are planned to help pay off the loan.
"Every dollar donated is a dollar we don't have to borrow," Smith said.
The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church that was established in 1865. Nationally, about 83 cents of every dollar raised is used to support services such as disaster relief and food aid worldwide, the organization says.
The Juneau Salvation Army has been in existence for more than 100 years, Smith said, and has been operating the thrift store for more than 30 in its current location.
Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.