Urbana thrift store offers financial classes to patrons

An Urbana thrift store is offering area residents financial classes to help them better manage their money.

The class, which has been offered for about three months, helps residents organize their bills and prioritize their spending habits and is a requirement for those receiving assistance from the organization, said Joseph Shanks, manager and chairman of the board on the Community Thrift Store committee.

“A lot of people when they take that class they really understand where their money is going. A lot of them don’t realize how their money is being spent until after the fact,” Shanks said.

Shanks said the process takes about two hours.

In addition, Shanks said officials help residents get jobs, set up interviews with employers and help them get to and from work.

The thrift store is owned by a local board of directors under the Champaign County Ministerial Association.

It provides assistance with food, rent, utility bills, transportation, clothes and shoes, prayer and a place to stay for a night, if needed.

Between 500 to 700 people visit the store per week, he said

“We provide all the needs of the community whether it be food, hotel room for a night. Whether it’s a stranger or a local resident. We’re a Christian organization … We give out bibles, we minister to whoever, wherever we can and we encourage (and strengthen) the people,” said Shanks, who has been a volunteer since 2008.

But Shanks said the financial class has been an eye opener for participants.

“It gets them thinking,” Shanks said.

Participants are given a chart to follow and told to take care of their basic needs, such as their rent, utilities and car and then what’s left can be spent on other things.

“So we put everything in perspective. Once they go through that list it gives them a pretty good idea where they’re going to be next month or six months from now,” Shanks said. “A lot of them never had that guidance. They live from week to week. They don’t understand what they’re really going through until after the fact.”

Shanks said there are still many people in need of assistance even though the economy has improved.

“The need is crazy. It’s an ongoing thing everyday. A lot of elderly people that’s on fixed incomes that need extra things that happen to them. An unexpected bill or they get their car fixed, need a set of tires and they just don’t have it. They do not have it,” Shanks said.

People from Springfield, Dayton, Tipp City and throughout Champaign County come to the store, Shanks said.

It’s able to help area residents because of donations.

“It’s amazing. This small store and the people that come in and out of here … They tell us they’re glad we’re here. It’s amazing the encouragement that we get from everybody,” Shanks said.

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