Getting to know your neighbor: The Springville Trading Post meets the needs of the heart, mind and body
This is a familiar scene to visitors and volunteers alike. The Springville Trading Post welcomes anyone who needs assistance to stop by its food pantry twice per month to stock up on necessities. While the Franklin Street facility has been a staple in the Springville community for many years, CEO and Outreach Chaplain Linette Crelly said the process it took to get to this point only could have been begun by God.
Several years ago, when her family was having difficulty making ends meet, Crelly brought some clothing items to a local thrift store, asking the business’s employees if she could trade those garments for other clothes her family needed. “I wasn’t asking for anything for free,” she said. “I wanted to trade. And I was humiliated. They just told me, ‘We can’t help you.’”
As she left that thrift store, rejected clothing in hand, Crelly said that she felt like a seed had been planted within her. When she and her husband Todd moved to Western New York, they began hosting clothing swaps at their new, Christian-based ministry in Orchard Park. When Todd Crelly felt called to move to the Springville area, the family made connections with Love In The Name of Christ and other entities and eventually took over the dormant local clothing closet. “It was pretty bad,” Linette Crelly said. “There were bags of clothes everywhere, just shoved together.”
The Crellys tackled the project together and the clothing closet began to grow again –– so much so that, in 2003, the Trading Post had to be relocated to 74 West Main St. “We wanted to establish a foundation of instilling dignity and worth in people,” Crelly said. “People need to be treated right. We wanted to help give them a hand up. Always, always remember: They are human beings.”
Although the original ministry offered exclusively clothing, “people started coming in to ask for food assistance,” Crelly said. The Springville ministry referred these individuals to food pantries in the area, but many of the needy people were not eligible for that assistance due to location requirements. “One day, someone brought a truckload of food to our back door,” Crelly said. “At the same time, someone came to our front door to ask for food. That was a God moment, and I thought, ‘I guess we’re supposed to do food.’”
“When you come to the Lord, you trade your sins for his mercy,” Crelly said, explaining that the Trading Post’s name alludes to more than the facility’s clothing trading program. “If it wasn’t for God, we could not keep our doors open. We know it’s God’s hand holding us and we want to extend his love to people,” she said. “The clothes and food are just a vehicle. People really need hope.”
There are many different outreaches operating simultaneously out of the Trading Post and Crelly said she feels “very rewarded” to be able to help the people in the community in so many ways.
Remembering the day when she and her clothing-for-trade were turned away from a local not-for-profit, Crelly instated Springville’s clothing trading program. The Trading Post accepts any clothing that is from the current season and style that is not ripped, stained or unpleasantly-scented. The clothing is left at the Trading Post until it can be sorted and priced, and the donators receive store credit in the form of trading bucks, which can be used for any clothing items.
Clothing that cannot be sold at the Trading Post is donated to the Buffalo City Mission, which then sends the clothes to a third world country.
The Trading Post is assisted, in part, by the Salvation Army’s bell-ringers throughout Western New York. The post also partners with the United Way. “We asked, we prayed and it came through,” Crelly said. The Trading Post is currently working on grant writing and on its promotions, to inform the community on what it offers.
The Western New York Food Bank sends a refrigerated truck full of fresh food to the Trading Post on the third Friday of the month at 1 p.m. There are no income requirements put in place for individuals who wish to partake in the truck’s offerings. The post hosts an income-based food pantry twice per month and Crelly said bread and produce are put out on a daily basis for those in need of emergency help.
Other Trading Post ministries include a gluten-free support group, which meets the last Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m., $5 haircuts, which are offered by a licensed cosmetologist volunteer every Saturday and the back-to-school giving tree that is going on right now. This project allows community members to sponsor a child by purchasing him or her an outfit, school supplies and a backpack. “Call now to adopt a child for school,” Crelly said. Donations are due by Aug. 18.
Crelly said her future goals for the Trading Post include the offering of home-based classes like cooking, crafts, parenting and healthy lifestyles. The Trading Post is currently in need of volunteers, especially cooks for the community kitchen, and for people able to host fundraisers. Donations are always accepted.
Fellowship Hill Ministries, the parent ministry of the Trading Post, is located on Route 39 in Sardinia. Last year, the retreat and campground hosted 30 kids at its Christian camp, completely free of charge.
A second location, the Trading Post South, was opened about three years ago at 11 Washington St. in Cattaraugus. That facility is now run independently, although trading bucks can be distributed and used at both locations. Crelly said that her dream is to help create Trading Posts across the country and she will soon be traveling to Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteerism and Service in Chicago to promote her goal. “I hope to learn things to bring back, as well,” she said. “I am praying I can make connections for our expanding goal.”
The Trading Post is open on Mondays from 6 – 9 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (until only 2 p.m. in the summer) and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. On holiday weekends, the post is closed on Saturdays. A rummage sale will be held Wednesday, June 27 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. and a summer bag sale begins July 22.
For more information or to volunteer at the local outreach, call the Trading Post at 592-4455 or visit fellowshiphill.tripod.com or www.facebook.com/fellowshiphill. Watch the Springville Journal for Trading Post news and event updates.