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published February 07, 2012

Retailing with heart

Volunteer at North Shore thrift store for Breakthrough

Social Impact Entrepreneur Elizabeth Maring's vision was to create a large, upscale thrift store, staff it all by volunteers, and use the profits to make grants to nonprofits. Since 2011, she has successfully launched that model through the Buffalo Grove store Community Threads. Lucky for us, Maring chose Breakthrough as one of the nonprofits Community Threads partners with.

Sales have consistently increased every month as the economic need grows and word spreads about this new venture. More than 125 volunteers from three organizations, including Breakthrough, donate time every week by working just one 3-hour shift doing something in the store they enjoy: cashiering, helping customers, receiving goods, organizing and more.

Currently, Breakthrough has about 25 regular weekly volunteers but needs 10 more as schedules change or people travel. 

Volunteering at Community Threads is also a great opportunity to give back and experience something new. One volunteer recounts: “I had just re-organized the shoe display in the men’s area and a customer was trying to find something suitable, so imagine our mutual surprise and delight to find a pair of perfectly fitting, excellent quality Dockers to replace his tattered and well-traveled ones!”

Stories like this occur every day at Community Threads and really bring to life God’s promise that He will provide exactly what we need.

As a nonprofit grant recipient we are blessed to be a part of this generous and profitable venture. But as a recipient we do have responsibility. We are charged with finding and supplying our share of volunteers. Will you be one of them?

Get Involved —10 More Volunteers Needed!

Location: 70 W. Dundee Road, Buffalo Grove, 60089 (intersection of Dundee and Buffalo Grove Road)     Website:

To volunteer, please contact Gretchen Schmidt at