By Mike McClure

The Good Samaritan Aid Organization is gearing up for its busiest time of the year, the holidays, and is in need of volunteers to help with this effort as well as with its thrift store.

The thrift store, located in the former Phillips men’s store on West Market Street, sells gently used clothing, household items, cookware, collectibles, and decorations. The building across the street, the old Acme building, is also filled with furniture. Proceeds from the sale of items in the store are put back into the community.

The Good Samaritan Aid Organization thrift store is located on West Market Street in Laurel. Photo by Hunter Nusz

Good Samaritan, a 501c3 non-profit, gets referrals from the state service center in Laurel, and other organizations. The organization helps people in need of help with rent, electric/gas/utility bills, doctors/prescriptions, and food.

Prior to 1978, the Kiwanis Club of Laurel ran a food pantry and also collected toys and clothing. On Christmas Eve, food baskets and toys were delivered to around 25 needy families. In the fall of 1978, the Kiwanis Club disbanded and some former members of the club and local church leaders formed the Good Samaritan Aid Organization, continuing its Christmas tradition.

The group saw a need for helping people who are having financial issues and teamed up to create the organization and raise money. The thrift store was eventually started to help with the fundraising. 

In the beginning, Good Samaritan rented various shops throughout the town of Laurel. Good Sam purchased the old Acme building using debt, and set up the thrift store in that building. As the thrift store popularity grew, it became necessary to find a larger space. 

Good Sam did not want to take on any debit, so Johnny Janosik purchased the Phillips’ Men Shop building, and the Good Sam Thrift Store moved across the street to a much larger space which allowed the Laurel Library to utilize the old Acme building as a temporary spot during construction of the new library. 

The Janosik family made annual gifts of the real estate to Good Sam over the next several years. When the library renovation was complete, the old Acme building became the thrift store for larger items. There is also a formal dress wear rack in that building. 

The late Johnny Janosik was very involved with organization, volunteering his time as an outreach worker.

“He (Johnny Janosik) was always there,” said Good Samaritan President Melinda Tingle, who has been involved with Good Sam since 2009. “The Janosik family has always been very generous to the organization. 

Volunteers are something Good Samaritan needs the most. The average age of its volunteers is 75 and there is just one male volunteer.

“We have a huge need for volunteers,” Tingle said. “It takes a special kind of person to volunteer for this organization.”

Thrift store volunteers work sorting donations received by Good Sam to prepare the donations for sale in the thrift stores. Additionally, volunteers are needed to work at the cash register in the thrift store when the store is open. The organization needs people who can volunteer on a fairly regular basis, a few hours per week.

Good Sam is also seeking an individual to work as an outreach volunteer, working for about an hour per day every day on a rotating three-week schedule. The outreach volunteer checks telephone messages daily for a week (Monday through Friday) and works with the Laurel State Service Center to find resources and assistance for those individuals in the Laurel and Delmar communities who need help with various utility bills, food and clothing. There are two other long-time outreach volunteers available to teach the volunteer how to manage the process. 

To volunteer call the thrift store at 302-875-2425 or come in during its hours, which are Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Good Samaritan’s biggest outreach and longest running program comes at Christmas time, when it solicits toy and monetary donations. A large group of volunteers wrap the toys and deliver them on Christmas Eve morning to Laurel residents who are referred to the organization

“It’s a great outreach,” said Tingle, adding that many area families would not get a Christmas without a program like this.

Last Christmas Good Sam served 273 families and over 700 kids.

The Dukes family provides box trucks to make deliveries to complexes. Church members from Central Worship and volunteers from Teen Challenge make the deliveries.

The thrift shop is also open 20 days in a row over the holidays, closing for a week after Christmas. Anyone wishing to donate for the Christmas program may do so during store hours (by Dec. 8).

Editor’s note- This is the fourth in a series of four stories on local organizations that the Star is collecting donations for during the month of September. Bring school supplies, new toys, personal hygiene items, and non perishable food items to the Star’s office at 951 Norman Highway in Seaford (Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.).