Henderson First UMC's Gleaners' House celebrates 20 years of ministry to Chester County residents


Gleaners House has been serving Henderson and Chester County for twenty years. (Submitted photos)

One glance around Gleaners' House in Henderson, Tennessee, reveals a treasure trove of used books, clothing and trinkets to attract any casual shopper. But Gleaners' House isn’t just another thrift store. Every dollar spent supports families in need in Chester County.

Gleaners' House, a ministry of Henderson First United Methodist Church (UMC) and other local churches, is celebrating 20 years of service to Chester County in 2017.

In 2016 alone, more than $70,000 was raised to support families with food, clothing, utility and medicine assistance, as well as other provisions.

Dr. Paul Scheirer, pastor of Henderson First UMC, said Gleaners' House is a benchmark outreach ministry for local people who struggle.

“Through Gleaners' House, my churches (Henderson First UMC and Trinity UMC) and others in our community are fulfilling God’s call to help our neighbors in need,” he said. “All persons, whether they donate, shop or volunteer at Gleaners' House, are giving the gift of compassion and generosity to our neighbors.”

Founded in 1997, Gleaners' House operates out of a building owned by Henderson First UMC and relies completely on community donations for its merchandise. With no paid staff, over 30 volunteers from Henderson First UMC and other churches keep the doors open.

Virginia “Jinger” Hall, co-director of Gleaners' House, said while proceeds benefit any family needing assistance, the ministry particularly helps low-income seniors, school children, people with special needs and those experiencing loss from fire.

Hall said opportunities to assist the community are as varied as the merchandise itself. One volunteer takes donated yarn to make hats for cancer patients. Used wedding and prom dresses adorn girls and brides short on cash. A work program provides employment opportunities for people on probation.

“A lot of what we do is social work,” Hall explained.

A partnership with Second Harvest provided food assistance for 342 people in just one day during a food giveaway this past summer.

“No one goes out of here hungry,” she said.

Even after 20 years, Hall said Gleaners' House still needs more volunteers to sustain its mission in the community.

“The hardest part of the job is getting someone to work for nothing,” she said. “[But] everyone who works here does so because they love it.”

Gleaners' House is located at 121 N Washington Ave. in Henderson.