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Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time Paperback – October 1, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Jane Knuth's] stories of the people that visit the store are very inspiring and she uses these stories to teach us the Vincentian principles of divine providence, spirituality and seeing the face of Christ in the poor."
--Ozanam News


The stories are fascinating, the reflections probing.
--Review for Religious


 "I love Jane Knuth’s books Thrift Store Saints and Thrift Store Graces."
--Ray Dupont, National Saint Vincent de Paul Stores Committee Chairperson

Book Description

Inspiring true stories of a volunteer thrift-store worker’s soul-changing encounters with the poor

Three people are waiting on the sidewalk in the drizzle. I drive past them and around the end of the building. As I park my car next to the fresh graffiti, I chew on my lip and say to myself for the hundredth time, What are you doing here, Jane? You don’t know the first thing about helping poor people!
So begins Thrift Store Saints, a collection of true stories based on Jane Knuth’s experiences at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in the inner city of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
At the outset of the book, Knuth is a reluctant new volunteer at the store, sharing that her middle-class, suburban, church-going background has not prepared her well for this kind of work. By the end of the book, Knuth has undergone a transformation of sorts, and neither she nor we can ever view the poor in the same way again.
Knuth’s transformation is rooted in the prevailing message of Thrift Store Saints: When we serve the poor, they end up helping us as much as we help them. Throughout the book we are introduced to new “saints,” as Knuth thoughtfully, at times humorously, describes how her encounters with the poorest people led her to the greatest riches of God’s grace.
Thrift Store Saints makes clear that it doesn’t require heroic Mother Teresa-types to make a difference with the poor, and it even more powerfully shows us that working with them is not gloomy, depressing work. Knuth’s moving stories demonstrate the profound joy any of us can experience when we see helping the poor not as social work, but as a spiritual path that leads us to the heart of Jesus.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Loyola Press (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0829433015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0829433012
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chi_reader on September 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book has wonderful heartwarming stories told from a down-to-earth perspective. I loved this book so much that I plan to send one to my mom for her birthday! Trust me- you won't be disappointed!
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What happens when a middle-class, American suburbanite encounters the uncomfortable world of inner-city poverty? In Thrift Store Saints, Jane Knuth answers by sharing her experiences volunteering in a local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.

Through meeting the "saints" who frequented her shop, Knuth undergoes a profound transformation in her own spiritual life. She begins to see the poor not as burdens but as "opportunities to meet Jesus." Thrift Store Saints is the perfect type of social-justice book: it uses personal stories and it doesn't leave you feeling guilty about what you're not doing. Instead, it inspires you--through example, not guilt--to want to do more. Thrift Store Saints teaches you, in the words of Mother Teresa, how to find Christ in his "most distressing disguise."
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This is an easy read. But this does not mean I did not get anything from reading the book. Our local "budget shop" is operated by almost 100 volunteers and I saw myself in this book. It is spiritual but not over the top. The individuals encountered are real and go by many names. This is a must read for those who work with the disadvantaged or are thinking about it.
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This book is a wonderful read as well as thought provoking. The insights Jane shares with us are priceless. It will make me look at the people who need help in an entirely new light.
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This is one of my favorite books. It helped me to better understand the role I play as a young volunteer. It serves as a reminder not to pass judgment as you serve those in need. There are many examples of the mental and emotional struggles that can take place while volunteering and how they can change you for the better or the worst of you let them. It stresses the importance to understand that each situation is unique and must be treated as such. You have to adapt and make choices based on the situation or you may run the risk of adding to the problem instead of being part of the solution. Small gestures can make big impacts. She speaks about cases where a new pair of shoes, a new suit, or a bed can change a persons life. This book is about a Catholic woman volunteering in a Catholic based thrift store. But it has the ability to speak to anyone. It is about the human condition and what happens when you devote you time and life to changing the world by choosing to help others. Not wishing the world would change , but rolling up your sleves and taking part in that change!
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Jane Knuth has volunteered at a thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic charitable organization, for more than 20 years. In her books (this one and Thrift Store Graces: Finding God's Gifts in the Midst of the Mess) are tales of her encounters with customers at the store and in the surrounding neighborhood.

The refreshing thing about Ms. Knuth's point of view is that she doesn't consider herself to be serving the poor, or teaching the poor, or in any way condescending to a class of people not her own. She has wholeheartedly assumed the Society's position that the people she helps are her teachers, and she their student. That simple, yet profound, shift in thinking informs Ms. Knuth's every interaction. It produces a curiosity and humility that makes her storytelling so very touching.

Yet, there was a learning curve for Ms. Knuth. In her first encounter at the shop -- as a customer -- she brings an attitude with her. When she takes her item to the counter and whips out a credit card, the white-haired elderly woman behind the counter tells her they don't take credit cards. Ms. Knuth bristles. "Look," I tell her. "This is the third time I've driven downtown. Your hours are lousy... Now you're telling me you won't take credit cards? This is ridiculous." The woman gently tells her that most of their customers don't have credit cards. And so begins Ms. Knuth's education.

This is a lovely book filled with valuable spiritual lessons that can only be learned by a person like Ms. Knuth, who is willing to leave the comfort of a completely known and utterly safe life. It'll make you want to leave your recliner and sign up to volunteer!
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I manage a small non-profit thrift store, and worked for Goodwill for 8 years. I have experienced many 'Jesus touched' moments as well, such as those in this book. This book made me realize how much the ;Lord works in our lives, and how small our individual worlds are. I LOVED this book and will pass it on.
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This book touched me in ways I did not expect. It is not a great piece of literature, but there are little nuggets in every chapter that pull at you. However, it is the final third of the book that I really responded to. I am thankful it wasn't preachy, and that it was written in a simple, straightforward style. Sometimes in order to really get the message, it needs to be soft-pedaled, and Jane Knuth's light touch was exactly right for the subject matter. I am grateful to have read it.
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