Kathleen Owens first met The Salvation Army while dropping off a bag of clothing at one of its stores near her house. She’s now an advisory board member of that Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), one of 141 like it in the U.S.

“I started talking to a man who showed me inside as the store was being remodeled, and it was beautiful. The floor was white marble, and everything was clean and looked great,” Owens said. “He told me about all of the things The Salvation Army does in our community, and I later sent an email saying I wanted to get involved.”

Owens, a financial advisor, prepared a financial plan for the ARC, and said she was struck by the amount of every donated dollar that goes toward programs—84 cents. “To donate to The Salvation Army, you know that your money is used wisely,” she said. “And the added bonus in the ARC program is that the people who are manning the trucks and sorting the goods are finding a way to stay out of whatever got them into an unproductive life style.”

She and her teen daughter still donate and shop in the nearby family store—and they are not alone.   

ARC_SustainingRecovery7Resale is a $16 billion dollar a year industry. According to America’s Research Group, 18 percent of Americans will shop at a thrift store during a given year—not far from the 21 percent who shop in department stores.  

The Anaheim ARC recycles donations that do not end up on store shelves. Damaged or worn clothing, for example, is sent to a massive baler, which turns clothing and cardboard into 1,100-pound bales that are sold to recyclers for 18 cents a pound.

“I don’t think people have any idea how green The Salvation Army is between e-waste, rag sales, and recycling of metal and books,” said Frank Scott, Anaheim ARC operations director, noting the the 85 million pounds of waste and 12 million pounds of electronics kept out of landfills in the West through The Salvation Army.  “We’re the ultimate scavengers.”

Read the full story of how thrift sales fund rehabilitation through The Salvation Army across the U.S.