Tomahawk Community Thrift Shop awards nearly $9,000 in grants to local nonprofits
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor
TOMAHAWK – The Tomahawk Community Thrift Shop, located at 310 W. Wisconsin Ave. in Tomahawk, awarded $8,800 in net profit grants to six local nonprofit organizations on Thursday, Jan. 30.
After volunteering at a large Minocqua thrift shop that grants a portion of its net profits to charities throughout the Northwoods, Lois Wise, Sharon Eisenman and Lois Strampe decided to try to open a store in Tomahawk with the same goal.
“Our dream was that we’d be able to give money to others in the community,” Eisenman said.
Their dream became a reality with the help of friends and the Tomahawk community, both through donations and volunteer efforts. The shop was opened on July 2, 2019 in the Historic Tomahawk Hotel across the street from the post office on Wisconsin Avenue.
Almost immediately after opening the doors, donations of clothing, furniture, dishes, small appliances, books and more started to flood in.
“We opened in July, and by the end of August and the start of September, we said, ‘We’ve got to move. We’ve got to find another place,’” Eisenman stated.
More space was found by renting a unit adjacent to the original, more than doubling the size of the store. In total, the shop has nine rooms.
The shop will donate 75% of its net profits twice a year, first in the winter and again in the summer. The 25% that is left will be used to hopefully purchase a location for the store in the future, explained Treasurer Cindy Wescott.
“We don’t have any payroll. Everyone volunteers, from the Board of Directors, to the director that runs the shop, to everyone that works in it,” Wescott said. “All of our inventory is donated. So those are the two biggest things that you’d have to pay for in a normal business that we don’t have.”
For the first round of this year’s donations, the shop awarded $1,675 to the Merrill Community Homeless Shelter to help with operation costs, such as cleaning supplies, winter maintenance and heating costs; $1,675 to Our Sisters’ House Homeless Shelter in Tomahawk to allow Case Managers to help grow job readiness skills such as job search, resume development, obtaining necessary work documents, mock job interviews, soft skill training, interview clothing, haircuts, job uniform costs and more; $1,600 to Redeemer Learning Center for the purchase of four cribs with heavy duty wheels for evacuation of infants; $1,675 to Salvation Army Tomahawk to provide food for Tomahawk School District and St. Mary’s School children through the Happy Kids Backpack program; $500 to Tomahawk Area Interfaith Volunteers to be used for professional assistance with the development of an informational video to be used for community presentations to help attract volunteers and care receivers, as well as show to perspective funding sources; and $1,675 to the Tomahawk Emergency Food Pantry to purchase food and vouchers from local grocery stores.
Wescott explained that the shop will only donate to organizations that are recognized by the federal government as 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
“That way, we know where the money’s going. They help children, they help the elderly, the help the homeless, they help the hungry,” Wescott said.
Next round of grants
The shop will award its next round of grants in July. Until then, volunteers plan to continue to welcome donations of items and enjoy working at the shop.
“It’s been fun. I’ve just been having a ball with this,” Eisenman said. “I just love being around people and helping folks.”
How to apply for grants
The next grant window will be open from May 1 to June 30, 2020. All local nonprofit charities are welcome to apply at TCTSGrant@gmail.com or stop at the shop to pick up an application.