The Mount Airy community has stepped up to ensure a local free “store” will remain open.
Jimmy Stockton has been running God’s Helping Hands at 821 West Pine Street for about eight years. However, a week ago he announced that the store — which provides clothing, food, appliances, furniture and other necessities to people in need for free — would shut its doors.
Stockton said he had received notice God’s Helping Hands would be evicted from its location. The rent was paid, but Stockton was not able to pay tipping fees at the Surry County landfill to remove unusable items dropped off at the store’s location. His landlord had grown tired of the junk piling up.
However, after a Mount Airy News article regarding the situation, there has been a change of opinion. The store will stay at its location and continue to serve the community.
On Thursday Stockton said his landlord, Dean Bray, was going to allow the store to remain at his property. A friend had brokered the deal. It was like a story out of the Bible.
“He was like my Moses,” remarked Stockton, describing the man as a messenger carrying out the will of God.
Stockton said after the story was published there was an outcry from the community, evidenced by the more than 7,000 people who reached out to Stockton on Facebook.
“Many churches and people were praying for God’s Helping Hands,” explained Stockton. “Their prayers were the most precious thing they could have done for us.”
Stockton noted he was on his way to personally thank Bray.
As if that weren’t enough, Stockton, who funds the operations out of his own pocket, said an individual who wished to remain anonymous offered to pay the rent for the store.
“I want to thank everybody who reached out,” said Stockton. “We can carry on with serving the community now.”
Stockton said while the actions of people on earth will keep God’s Helping Hands around, he has no doubt where the ultimate thanks lies.
When he thought the store’s run in helping the community could come to an abrupt end, Stockton knew somebody upstairs would look out for the outfit.
“We have to give the glory to God first,” explained Stockton. “We knew He would take care of things.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.