God’s Work, Our Hands

As St. Paul exhorted the Church to be the Body of Christ, so the motto of PennyWise Thrift Shop could be “God’s work, our hands.” For the past 28 years, PennyWise has raised and distributed $2,329,929 to charities in Lee and Collier Counties as well as to the building, endowment and operation of St. Mary’s Church. In Lee County, households with members under 18-years-old, 25.2 percent live in poverty; in Collier County, the poverty rate for the same demographic is 22.9 percent. This is the community that PennyWise is dedicated to serve, both in providing low cost, gently used merchandise for sale and with donating cash grants for organizations that serve the poor. St. Mary’s Outreach Commission reviews grant applications from local charities to decide which agencies will receive support.

In 2017, $50,000 was distributed among the following applicants:

  • Bonita Springs Assistance
  • Café of Life
  • Gabriel House
  • Harvest Time Ministries
  • Literacy Council Gulf Coast
  • Love INC
  • Meals on Wheels of Bonita Springs
  • Smith India Ministry
  • Dominican Republic Alberque
  • Our Mother’s House of SWF
  • Camp Able (St. Mark’s Project)
  • DaySpring Pool Fund
  • Place of Hope in Haiti
  • After the Rain of SWF
  • New Horizons of Bonita Springs
  • Liberty Youth Ranch of Bonita Springs

How PennyWise Came About!

It all began in 1989 when four women from the parish, including Jean Harper, wife of the then-rector, each chipped in $1,000 to rent a store front in a strip mall on Bonita Beach Roadand opened the first PennyWise shop where it remained until 2004. Ask about becoming a volunteer once a week for three hours. It’s always a friendly place to chat with shoppers and make friends while you answer St. Paul’s call.

With items in the store priced to sell from dimes and quarters to somewhat larger dollar amounts, it takes a lot of donated merchandise and volunteers to raise the $100,000 that is evenly divided between outreach grants and the parish every January. More than 100 volunteers, mostly seasonal residents and several who aren’t parish members, donate their time each week to staffing the shop where new recruits are always welcome.

PennyWise accepts donations! Currently, we do not accept large appliances (mainly because of lack of space), computer components, used toiletry appliances, etc. To arrange a pick-up of large furniture donations, call the shop and ask to speak with the day manager.

Summer hours at PennyWise are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Phone: (239) 947-3363