An organization which provides a helping hand to Surry County residents could soon find itself without a home.
Jimmy Stockton operates God’s Helping Hands, a store – of sorts – located at 821 West Pine St. It’s a different sort of store than what one might expect, said Stockton. At God’s Helping Hands everything is free.
“I started it myself eight years ago,” explained Stockton. “I was talking to the Lord on Sunday and He gave me the idea for a free store.”
Stockton said about an average of 30 people come to the store on a daily basis to pick up essentials such as clothing, food, appliances and furniture. Everything is donated by local members of the community, and the Shepherd’s House donates about two-thirds of the stuff in the store. He also gets a lot of donated furniture from Babcock Furniture.
“It started as trying to help the elderly and children in the community,” said Stockton. “It blossomed into helping homeless people and people who might not be able to make it (financially) on their own.”
He said the store has helped countless people make ends meet.
God even led him to the location, said Stockton, but at the end of the month the store will be without its home, just west of the intersection of N.C. 89 and U.S. 52.
“It wasn’t the money,” said Stockton, who noted he pays for much of the store’s operational costs out of his own pocket.
The Vietnam War Army veteran said he could afford the $300 in rent needed to keep the location running and the $100 needed to rent storage space.
“People were coming here and leaving furniture and stuff that was trash,” explained Stockton. “I couldn’t keep up with it.”
He said junk piled up at the store, and though he tried to haul it away, tipping fees at the landfill were more than he could handle financially. His landlord, Dean Bray, told him he had to leave by the end of October. He’s left with a vision, but nowhere to carry it out.
“I can’t find a place,” said Stockton. “I struggle with the $400 I pay now.”
Stockton is making a plea to the community. He needs any help he can get. Most importantly, he needs a location to run his operation.
“I’m really hoping a charitable person will let us have a building for a reasonable cost,” said Stockton. “We have really, really helped out in the community.”
Stockton said he has received phone calls from many concerned locals, but he’s only able to tell them he is trying his hardest to keep the operation afloat.
“I’d just hate to have to close it,” remarked Stockton. “I’m pretty well set, but I love helping people. I love the idea we are helping people.”
Stockton said he has until the end of the month to find a new location and vacate the premises, though he “might could beg for another month.”
That stated, he still believes somebody will handle the situation.
“God is good, and he will work it out,” concluded Stockton.
Stockton may be reached at 830-3779.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.