Along with shoppers searching for an amazing deal, she occasionally will see familiar faces of fire victims struggling to regain a sense of normalcy. The American Red Cross -- where Whybark is a team captain for Cartersville's sole Disaster Action Team that evaluates burned out families' needs -- is one of several agencies that refer individuals to the Church Shop for complimentary clothing.
"We have a limited number of things we can do financially, of course," Whybark said, commenting on the Red Cross' offerings. "Then we give them referrals to The Salvation Army or to our Church Shop.
"That's when you can see that some of them are just so grateful that it makes you feel good all over that you can do at least one little thing for them. ... They come into the shop and they realize that maybe they have seen me at their home that has burned down. [When] they recognize me in the shop, there's big hugs and tears. They're just really grateful for anything that you'll do."
Formed in 1969, the Church Shop grew out of several area churches' efforts to provide clothing to those in need. While seven churches were represented at the nonprofit's first organizational meeting, the ministry now is owned and operated by 19 churches in Bartow.
All providing volunteers to help Whybark run the facility, the participating churches include First Presbyterian, Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist, Grace Baptist, Heritage Baptist, Church of the Ascension, Woffords Cross Roads Baptist, Tabernacle Baptist, White United Methodist, Bartow Cumberland Presbyterian, First Baptist, Faith Methodist, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, The Church at Liberty Square, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Cassville Baptist, Trinity Methodist, Divine Providence Baptist and Cornerstone Fellowship.
The Church Shop presently operates at 21 W. Main St. in a building that was donated to the nonprofit in the early 1990s. The store has called several locations home since the '60s, including the J.C. Building, Braban Hotel, a residence near the First Presbyterian Church of Cartersville and the parsonage of Gilmer Street Baptist Church.
"The first time I worked we had rented a room in the old Braban Hotel," said Kitty Carte, a member of Sam Jones Memorial UMC who has been volunteering at the Church Shop for about 40 years. "Everything was condemned except the first floor. The ladies that made the arrangements, they charged us $30 a month rent. They were thinking [we'd] never make $30.
"They used to take things home and we'd repair them, even put new zippers in men's pants, and that's beyond the call of duty as far as my sewing. They made it -- they never had any problems paying rent and having money left over. It turned out to be a big draw."
In addition to selling new and gently used merchandise, the Church Shop's charitable endeavors have evolved through the years. The store's proceeds currently are used to provide layettes -- newborn clothing, blankets and diapers -- to Cartersville Medical Center's nursery and to contribute financially to area nonprofits and Christmas programs. Last year, the Church Shop dispersed at total of about $20,000 to organizations such as Bartow County Resource Office, Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, the Christian League for Battered Women's Tranquility House, Bartow County Women's Resource Center, Bartow Christmas Coalition and the Bartow County Department of Family and Children's Silent Santa program.
"It all goes back out to agencies here in Bartow County," said Carte, about the store's proceeds. "None of it leaves Bartow County, which is different from any of the other thrift stores because we don't have to send money to any out-of-town group because we're local. ... Our main theme [is] everything we take in, we give away.
"We don't keep anything, except what we're required to. Our main aim is to help people. Except [for] one paid worker, all of the other workers that come in here are volunteers. So we have no payroll to pay. So that means everything that we take in, we can donate to somebody in Bartow County and that's one of the things that we stress."
For Linda Thomas, coordinator for the Bartow County Resource Office, the Church Shop's monthly donation is integral to her nonprofit's operation.
"[Their support] means everything because all of my funding comes from donations. I'm funded by the local churches and by the Community Church Shop," Thomas said. "It could help with medicine, gas for people to get to an out-of-town doctor if they don't have gas money. It just helps with all kinds of things.
"Of course [our clients have] changed because of the economy," she said, adding the Resource Office assisted 260 people in June with services ranging from food to gasoline for transportation. "I'm helping a lot more people that's never had help before because those people can't find jobs. To begin with I was helping mostly low-income people but, like I said, that's changed because of the economy. We've got people in here with master's degrees asking for help. It's pathetic, it is. I don't think people realize how bad the economy is. I come into work in the mornings and I have around 50 calls on my answering machine every day. I work from 8 to 1 Monday through Thursday and it's just unbelievable."
To help the Church Shop continue its outreach ministry, the Bartow community is encouraged to donate merchandise to the store during business hours. While there is no phone at the facility, it is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Showcasing the latest items is always fun for Carte, who helps arrange the merchandise, expect for clothing. The window displays are generally a draw for shoppers, who range from frequent to occasional customers.
"The crowd that's out here waiting at the door in the morning are usually the same people," Carte said, referring to bargain hunters who peruse the shop's offerings daily or weekly. "It's a social center, too. I have never been down here in the morning when there wasn't a crowd waiting out there.
"It doesn't make any difference if it's freezing cold or pouring rain. They want to be first. If there's something new, they want to be the first one to grab it."