The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 9, 2011

Park Avenue provides for residents’ needs

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — In their humble way, Paula Nightengale and David Hume are doing a sacred thing.

The pair are co-founders of Park Avenue Thrift, which donates all profits to support worthwhile causes in the community.

When the business launched in the fall of 2007, its purpose was exactly the same as it is now: Raise money to make life better in Enid.

They were inspired by the words of Matthew 22:37-40: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

“We’ve given away over $340,000 to the community since we opened,” Nightengale said.

Profits have been given to an array of community programs and mission purposes, from Toys for Tots and Junior Welfare League to the public library and Be Fit Kids. Some are one-time donations for emerging needs and programs. Park Avenue also lends support to education and art in education.

The organization’s “Big Five” recipients are Enid Symphony Association, Gaslight Theatre, Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse, Main Street Enid and PEGASYS.

Additionally, the store has a program for other agencies to write Park Avenue vouchers for clients’ needs.

“I believe it’s over $20,000 in merchandise that we’ve supplied,” Nightengale said.

“That’s at thrift store prices,” Hume added.

“We’re really not in a position to sit down and do one-on-one with customers,” Nightengale said.

“We let the person who does work with them put down on a voucher, ‘This is Jane Doe and she needs an outfit for an interview,’” Hume said.

Not all their efforts go toward raising money, though. A chapel in the center of the store allows anyone who wants to step inside for a bit of contemplation in a quiet place. Prayer requests can be left there as well. Every Tuesday morning, the Rev. Steve Samples and a few members of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church come to the store for a prayer service and act on prayer requests.

But it all comes back to the main mission: providing for the needs of Enid and area residents.

The most-needed items on Park Avenue’s donation wish list are furniture and household items such as bedding and kitchenware.

“We want to increase our donation base of furniture,” Nightengale said.

But they’ll take anything that comes.

“We’ll take anything but live animals and small children,” Nightengale said, jokingly.

Donated items that can’t be put on the sales floor are recycled. For instance, clothing that is stained, worn or outdated is sent to a rag company for recycling.

Anything in good enough shape to go to the sales floor is priced and set out. Seasonal items are stored until the right time to sell.

“There’s always a need for more money, and this is a way we can take donated items and turn them into money,” Hume said.

“Giving away money: It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it,” Nightengale said.