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Thrift store to open, to give south side help

– The Franciscan Center will open a thrift store in the next few weeks, officials announced Thursday.

The non-profit has secured the location of the former Goodwill Store at Coliseum Corners, on Coliseum Boulevard between Clinton Street and Parnell Avenue, to start its own effort, called The Franciscan Center Family Thrift Store.

Officials said that thanks to the generosity of their new landlords, Coliseum Reality, the new Family Thrift Store was able to take possession of the store on April 1, stock the store, and will open for business mid-May.

Tony Ley, executive director of The Franciscan Center, said the store will sell donated items such as clothing and unused sporting equipment to fund programs that provide sack lunches, food, and home care supplies to thousands of families on the south side of Fort Wayne.

“While it sounds funny to say,” Ley said, “we are truly turning rollerblades into food.”

By the Franciscan Center’s calculations, a set of rollerblades donated to the Thrift Store, for example, could provide four lunches for the Sack Lunch Ministry or a sack of groceries for a family at the Food Pantry.

“Something sitting in someone’s garage right now can provide support for those in need without any out-of-pocket costs to the donor,” Ley said.

“And just as important, 100 percent of your donation stays local and funds only local needs.”

Officials said the store is still in need of additional store displays, fixtures, and clothing racks, and needs clothing, in all sizes, genders, and seasons; holiday-themed decorations; books, CDs, movies, games and other media; school uniforms; housewares; and sporting equipment.

More information is available at 260-744-3977 or

The Franciscan Center, founded in 1989, runs a food pantry, medicine cabinet and sack lunch program on the south side of Fort Wayne with over 80,000 client visits in 2012.