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Columbia Falls thrift store struggles to provide for their scholarship program

Posted at 2:54 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 16:54:28-04

A Columbia Falls thrift store with the mission to give back to students is struggling to fulfill that goal as coronavirus takes a toll on the business.

The Garden of Eden thrift store was established eight years ago with one goal in mind -- to give back to the community.

"Because we know we serve an impoverished community, our mission is to write and set up scholarships for local school district six, we work hand and hand with the administration," President Allen Christopherson explained.

Garden of Eden donates 30%-to40% of its revenue to scholarship money, clothes and various other items for Columbia Falls students but once coronavirus hit Christopherson had to close the store for a little over a month -- and it took a toll on his overall goal to give back.

"The impact was real and even a thrift store like ourselves," he said. "It cut 50% right off the top. It has eliminated the possibility for our scholarship program at this point."

Christopherson says he's grateful some people are volunteering to help, "we do have some individuals that may be stepping up to come alongside and fill that gap."

He's also proud to say that Garden of Eden has managed to keep all their staff employed during this uncertain time.

"Dedicated to keeping the employees that we have here on, not to lay anybody off or to fire anybody, or anything like that," he said. "So, it's a substantial amount of money coming out of what little reservoir Garden of Eden had."

Christopherson told MTN News that while other thrift stores stopped accepting outside donations the Garden of Eden is still taking in donations to help anyone in need. Their back donation door is open for any drop offs.

He says Garden of Eden will not open until the second week of May in order to ensure the store is cleaned appropriately and clients can be safe. Donations may be dropped off at 1750 9th Street West in Columbia Falls.