Thrift-Mart in Ocoee offers clothing, housewares, furniture and more at greatly reduced prices.
As Jacqueline Siegel heard more and more stories about local families who were affected by the economic downturn, she knew she had to do something.
With years of fundraising experience, Jacqueline began to notice that she and David were generating fewer funds from their efforts.
“What I found was, raising money through drives became harder,” Jacqueline said. “With the downturn in the economy, it has been more difficult. People have not been as charitable, because they can’t. And to me, this is the time when people need more help, when people need to donate more money. To me, as donations decline, the need increases. That’s what my observation was — that the financial decline in our community has really diminished the financial support for the needy in the community.”Jacqueline brainstormed and founded Thrift-Mart, located at 17070 W. Colonial Drive in Ocoee. The 9,000-square-foot upscale thrift store, which opened June 2010, receives and sells new and gently used clothing and household items. The donations and money raised through the sales aid a number of local charities, including Harbor House of Central Florida; West Orange Food Pantry Inc.; and Milestone Social Services Inc., which houses and vocationally rehabilitates children who have outgrown the foster care system. Thrift-Mart also has helped several fire victims and political refugees.“One of the biggest contributions we have [made] is to Milestone,” Jacqueline said. “Foster children eventually get aged out of the system at 18. And many times, once their foster care is gone, they have no place to go. Milestone just acquired three houses in Sanford and Apopka, but they did not have anything for the inside of the houses. We were able to come in and give them appliances, furnishings, beds and bedding. We gave everything we could to help make the houses into homes.”
Isleworth resident Jacqueline Siegel opens Thrift-Mart in Ocoee, with proceeds benefiting local nonprofit organizations and people in need.
Jacqueline added that she was truly touched to see the impact Thrift-Mart’s funds have made for the children.“It was wonderful to see how grateful they were,” she said. “The kids would have no place to go. Each one has a different story. They have been through so much. I’m even hoping that once they get settled, we can add a few more touches to the homes.”
Thrift-Mart accepts donations of appliances, home furnishings, toys, tools, vehicles, clothing, electronics and more. Door-to-door pickups are offered within 10 miles of the store, and tax receipts are available. Donations also can be dropped off Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., during regular business hours. Customers who donate items in person get a discount toward any purchase made that day.
“We even take things that do not work,” Jacqueline said. “We can get it repaired and get it going. And we have a way to get rid of it if it is not usable.”
Thrift-Mart’s inventory is purposely priced at greatly reduced rates, making much-needed items available to families who may not otherwise be able to afford them. Jacqueline added that her priority is giving back to Central Florida.Thrift-Mart’s motto is “Locals Helping Locals.”“We have been able to help people with our low prices, and we have been able to help people in need through donations,” Jacqueline said. “And I’m glad to be able to create more jobs.”In agreement is Wendy Ponce, a Thrift-Mart employee who helped open the store.“The store really [helps] the community, so I was really excited,” Ponce said. “And we were proud to be part of filling the needs of the people who need it the most.” Jacqueline’s family has been very supportive of the efforts.“My husband, when I mentioned it to him, thought it was a wonderful idea,” Jacqueline said.The couple’s eight children, Jonquil, 18; Victoria, 14; David, 12; Daniel, 11; Debbie, 10; Drew, 8; and twins Jacqueline and Jordan, 4, have all cheered on their mother’s efforts, and several volunteered at the store this summer.“I grew up where I had to work my way through college; where I had to pay for college waitressing,” said Jacqueline, who hopes to instill a strong work ethic and generosity in her children. “For me, it’s good to show how important it is to give back.”“Jacqueline has got a big heart,” said Bernadette McCann, Westgate Resorts regional director of human resources. “She feels she has been fortunate in her life and, being a mother of eight children, if she can make one kid smile or one woman’s life easier in the community, she will do this ... What she’s doing is a wonderful thing.”For more information, call 407-656-7283, email
www.ocoeethriftmart.org on the Web.
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