‘I get amazed every time I’m in there’: catching up with Victoria’s Hope

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April Bowen German at Victoria’s Hope Thrift and Treasures in Cullman (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After a successful ministry to families in need down in Dodge City, successful enough that she simply ran out of room, April Bowen German moved Victoria’s Hope (VH) to a larger facility in Cullman, and opened Victoria’s Hope Thrift and Treasures. At the new store, located across from West Elementary School on U.S. Highway 278, families in need still shop for free, and revenue from other customers goes back into the nonprofit or to any of several other worthy causes around the Cullman area.

As of Thanksgiving week, according to German, VH has donated around $9,000 to other local charities. She hopes to reach $10,000 by year’s end.

Said German, “I’m hoping, after this Christmas season, that we will definitely reach our $10,000 mark, which is tremendous, because when we opened the store in July, I think we were at not even $2,000. So, since we moved to the new location, we’ve been able to help so many more people.”

Each month, the ministry serves from 30 to 45 individuals or families who have qualified for the program. Additionally, it provides emergency assistance to families after disasters like house fires, several of which have occurred in the Cullman community in recent weeks.

German wished to remind those who have received VH’s service in the past, “Even though we helped them in the spring, summer, they’re welcome to come back for fall/winter for their clothing and things like that.”

Getting ready for Christmas

German told The Tribune, “As far as what we’re doing for Christmas, it has been amazing. We had a butterfly tree, kind of like an angel tree, but we turned ours into a purple butterfly tree. Our original plan was to put families on the butterfly tree for people to sponsor, and then the ones that did not get sponsored was going to come Dec. 15 and be able to shop and get things from our store that their children might be able to use for Christmas. But, so far, we only have like two or three families left on the butterfly tree; people have been great to try to sponsor families for us this year. So the support on that’s been tremendous. We had about 30 families, I believe, and we have like three left on the tree, so the support for that has been tremendous.

“We’re also going to arrange a day to where the kids that did get assistance, maybe their parents can bring them up to the store and let them shop for their parent and get them something for their mother, so they can wrap it up and have them something for their mother under the tree, too-or father or caregiver. So we’re looking forward to doing that.”

Community support the key to success

German told The Tribune, “I just want to thank the community. I was just thinking about, the other day, how far this has come in just a year’s time, and none of it would have been possible without the community. They have just shown us so much support, and we have our regulars that come in every Saturday to see us. I mean, I’ve met so many amazing people and seen so much kindness and love out of people that it’s been a very life-changing experience for me, doing this, and my family.” 

Get involved

German told The Tribune about some things that can help out VH this Christmas season:

  • Donors to sponsor two or three more families on the shop’s butterfly tree
  • Small gift sets, candles or other new items that children can get for their parents during the kids’ shopping event
  • New toys that parents can get for their children
  • Winter coats, regular and electric blankets, space heaters
  • Any other clothing items

 

Said German, “Any kind of donation is welcome, because there’s always someone that needs it.”

The final word

German said on Tuesday, “Yesterday, I experienced something that only could have been possible through God, between two customers: one coming back in to help another one that she didn’t even know. And I’ve had so many situations like that since we’ve opened, just seeing kindness in people. And they come in, and it’s not even us doing anything, it’s someone else wanting to do something for a total stranger. I’ve seen people pay for other people’s items, I mean, and then people just bringing things in just to try to help the community. 

“I just always wanted this to always be a place that people come in and they feel love, and I’ve just been very blessed to experience that, to see so much kindness in people. And, I don’t know, I get amazed every time I’m in there.”

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com