COME ON IN — A King’s Ransom Thrift Store is located at 3748 S. Park Ave. in Blasdell. Photos by Jessie Owen.
Area families will be sheltered from the cold, this winter season, thanks to many Blasdell business owners and community members who are working together to host a free winter coat giveaway.
The idea originated, many years ago, with a member of a South Buffalo church. Cecilia Sztaba, the current owner of A King’s Ransom Thrift Store in Blasdell, joined forces to help with that effort, four years ago, and said that she became emotionally involved in the outreach. When the founder of the giveaway moved out of state, Sztaba began spearheading the event.
“This was something that was really on my heart,” she said. “I cried all day long, seeing the need.”
Two years later, Sztaba left her nursing career and, with her husband’s help, began looking for a building in which to open a community outreach center. Through a series of events in which Sztaba said could have been orchestrated by only God, the couple found a former funeral home in Blasdell, which Sztaba said was perfect for their needs.
“God just opened up so many doors,” she said. “I wanted this to be a ministry and a reach out into the community. It was God all the way. He has opened up more doors than I can count, to minister to people.”
A King’s Ransom Thrift Store opened last January, selling housewares, clothing, books and more. Sztaba said that many community members have shown “overwhelming” support for the business, which is run by all volunteers, in addition to Sztaba. A portion of all proceeds is given to Hearts for the Homeless®.
Senior students from Saint Mary’s School of the Deaf earn community service hours volunteering at the store once per week. “They are wonderful kids,” Sztaba said. “They sort clothes and wash glassware and are a huge help.”
Sztaba uses the store as a community outreach throughout the year, also giving items away to those in need.
“It’s my ministry for the Lord,” she said. “People are so touched by God here. I love that I get to talk about God all day long.”
Dec. 7 will mark A King’s Ransom’s second free winter coat giveaway, as Sztaba has used her new business to continue the outreach started in South Buffalo, many years ago. This is her fourth year of spearheading that program.
Winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves, mittens, boots, other articles of warm clothing and blankets will be given away, free of charge, to any men, women and children who need them. The event will be held in the business’s parking lot from noon – 4 p.m. on Dec. 7.
Sztaba said that she has been collecting for the drive all year. A local dry cleaner provides her with unclaimed items left at that business, and another area thrift store donates warm clothing to the drive.
Many local grocery stores have donated food, including baked goods, canned goods and other nonperishables, that will also be given away to anyone who needs it.
“I don’t need any proof of income,” Sztaba said. “I don’t need anything from people other than the fact that they need a coat or a hat or whatever they need. The food and the clothing is there for those who need it. Period.”
Sztaba said that she wants people to not only be able to come to A King’s Ransom for the material things that they need, but “to feel the love of God here. That’s what we’re all about.
“We have so much,” she continued. “It breaks my heart when people come in with little kids that have nothing. That’s where my heart is.”
Volunteers from Sztaba’s church, Harbor Lights Fellowship, will be on hand Dec. 7, to give away Bibles and man a prayer table, where they will be available to talk to and pray with guests at the outreach.
The store is still accepting donations for the free winter coat giveaway. Drop off items for that or for the store in general at A King’s Ransom, located at 3748 S. Park Ave. The store is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday. For more information, call 235-8168.