Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: Thrift Store Saints

Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time

By Jane Knuth (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Jane Knuth never set out to help the poor; that wasn’t her plan and wasn’t her calling.

She was merely trying to buy a rosary at the local thrift store—and was frustrated with the whole ordeal—when a spry octogenarian asked her to help them out.

Reluctantly she agreed, but only on a temporary basis, until other help could be found. But what was she to do there? Emptying the trash and cleaning the toilet were the first areas of need mentioned.

However, they assigned her the job of ordering the religious gifts they sell, a task she felt most unsuited for.

Fifteen years later Jane is still volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo Michigan. Along the way she has become a full-fledged Vincentian—and she has stories to tell.

Her first story was written to share with family and friends, to help them better understand the typical happenings at the thrift store. But it was soon passed around in larger circles and eventually published in a magazine.

More stories followed and a monthly column was birthed.

Along the way, Jane’s faith became deeper and wider as she continued on her journey; it was one that included many unexpected turns and was full of surprises.

Jane volunteers at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to help the poor, but they help her too.

Every day they teach her (teaching is a primary precept of the St. Vincent de Paul Society) and their stories, which have become part of Jane’s story, are able to teach us as well—if we will let them.

[Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time, by Jane Knuth. Published by Loyola Press, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-8294-3301-2; 159 pages.]

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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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