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Why we should not shop at thrift stores

Dear Editor:

I really enjoyed the article “Doing without creates compassion for the poor” [The Miscellany, Aug. 16] and have increasingly been trying to encourage the life of solidarity for my two teenage daughters.

There was, however, one suggestion that I strongly disagree with, “Shop secondhand,” which actually was a conversation I had with my girls this week!

Last week, my daughter’s friend touted that she “had been thrifting” and showed us her $5 shirt (which normally costs $20 in stores). While I am happy to take advantage of a sale, I made a point to speak in private with my daughter afterwards about this when she mentioned that she would like to “go thrifting.” Our family is blessed to have financial security. We do not NEED to shop second hand. To hunt through the store for the best clothes (at bargain prices) just takes away the opportunity for those in need to be able to shop for items that they otherwise would not be able to afford!

I learned the lesson myself when I was in college — shopping with friends for Halloween outfits. As we shopped, we came across very needy families in our college town that were shopping for their everyday wear. It was that moment that provided me a with much better perspective on my purchases, donations, and spending habits.

As a result, my family goes through our closets, dressers, and cabinets a few times each year to determine what we haven’t worn or used over the past 12 months. If the item is in good shape, we donate it. Giving up a stylish shirt or pair of jeans (that you hardly ever wear) to a thrift store is a great way to share your blessings. Someone will find that item at a great price and wear it often. If my girls receive a gift that they feel will not be properly used or appreciated (perhaps something they have outgrown or already own), they donate the new, unused item in order to share with the needy.

Thanks for all that you do,

Laura Fortman

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