‘A leap of faith’: Victoria’s Hope Thrift and Treasures celebrates 1 year in business July 1-2

Craig and April German (Photo courtesy of April German)

CULLMAN, Ala. – In late June 2018, April German created Victoria’s Hope, a ministry that supplies clothing and other goods to single parents in need. The name honors the memory of her mother, Victoria Hammond Hankey, who was a single mother herself. Victoria’s Hope was launched a month after Hankey’s death.

Of her mother, German said, “She was a single mom for a very long time, and had a hard time, had to work three jobs, raising us.  I just remember her trying to get everything for us, and her not having even a pair of blue jeans that didn’t have a hole in them, because she couldn’t do anything for herself, because she was trying her best to provide for her kids.

“But, even through all that, she would help other people, like getting up donations for families in need, and helping pay people’s bills, and things like that.  She was an apartment manager that would let people move in even if they didn’t have the money at the time. She was always just helping people, and that was always her dream was to help people and do something like this.”

After a year of working out of her home and a generously loaned but small office in Dodge City, German decided to step up her game. On July 1, 2019, she opened Victoria’s Hope Thrift and Treasures (VHT) on Cullman’s west side. The new shop is a thrift store where people from all over the community can come to shop, but German maintained her original vision by allowing families in need to shop free of charge. Money raised by sales at the shop go back into the ministry side or to one of several other programs in the Cullman area that serve families in need.

By the end of its first year, VHT had given away $16,246 and paid off all outstanding lunch debt at Good Hope Primary School. In addition to regular customers, the store serves 10-15 client families per week, along with families facing emergency needs due to house fires and other losses.


July 1 and 2, VHT will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a two-day open house featuring raffles and other contests, special sales and Frios Gourmet pops for anyone making a purchase of $5 or more. German promised fun things will be happening throughout both days.

German talked to The Tribune about the experience of bringing VHT to the one-year mark.

“Honestly, I didn’t think we’d make it a couple of months!” she said. “I mean, I was scared. It has been amazing, just a blessing. I’ve met so many people that are like family to me now, because this little place here on the west side of town. We’ve met so many people in the community, and the community has just continued to bring donations after donations. I just mean, it’s just been amazing!”

Among her favorite memories are multiple instances of seeing former clients get back on their feet and return to the store as donors.

Said German, “I’ve even had former clients come in here and bring in donations now, and I’ve had a former client sponsor a family at Christmas because they were able. I’ve watched them for two years get their life- just continue to get better and better, and now they’re sponsoring families, when they were being sponsored to begin with.”

In an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty with causes ranging from COVID-19 to political and social unrest, German has seen support for her ministry remain strong.

“I was thinking the other day: everything that’s going so wrong right now; this is still- you still see the good in people, see a community coming together, even through all of this that we’re going through,” she smiled. “It’s been amazing.”

Family affair

German’s operation was already bigger than she could handle before she opened VHT, and the shop has only made the ministry bigger. Her husband Craig and the couple’s children, along with sister Heather Hankey and her kids, plus a host of helpers and volunteers, have made the store a community fixture.

Craig German, formerly a retail salesman, now runs the day-to-day operations of the shop so his wife can return to teaching during the school year, though COVID-19 has given them more time to work together this time around.

April German said of her husband, “Craig took a leap of faith when this started, because I couldn’t keep the store open if I didn’t have someone to run it for me, couldn’t afford to pay anybody. So he quit his job in sales and he’s been doing it ever since. He said, with him, his faith has grown so much just by being here and seeing the ministry, and meeting the people, and just working with the clients.”

Craig German told The Tribune, “It’s been different; it’s certainly been a change for me. But when she first came up with this idea, I sold heavy equipment for 15, 20 years. It got so big, so quick that one of us had to make the decision to kind of come up here and manage it while she went back to school. So, fortunately, we took a leap of faith and said we’re going to give this a shot, and I’ve been here for, gosh, since August, now.

“Sometimes it’s hard to explain. When the people come in- being in the world I was in, as far as constantly after that sale, and you know, you’re constantly focused on other things- and this has kind of opened me up to just, to be honest with you, it just strengthens your faith. You see the good in people still, and people that come in here and people we help, and the community that helps other people, it’s kind of neat to see it all come together. It really is. It certainly changed my perspective.

“We go home at night some and talk just about what we see in here, and the connections we see people make. Like I said before, if you spend time in here, your faith will be strengthened in hours. It really will, just because amazing things happen. You see somebody in need, and 30 minutes later, you see somebody with a solution, and you put the two together and it’s amazing.”

Pointing to a group of people bringing a van-load of donated items through the door, April German added, “It’s the community; it’s not us. We’re just the middle man.”

Craig German continued, “We’re blessed and thankful to be able to do it, for sure.”

The final word

Reflecting on the loss that spurred her to start her ministry, April German concluded, “I feel like God knew I needed this as much as other people might have needed it. I lost a family member, but I’ve gained so many family members through this, and I just know my mom would be tickled to death.”

For more information, to apply for assistance or to make a donation, visit www.facebook.com/victoriashope1952/ or call 256-252-8268.

Victoria’s Hope Thrift and Treasures is located at 1430 Fourth St. SW, Cullman, AL 35055.

Copyright 2020 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


W.C. Mann