A Heaven ¢entopportunity

Photos courtesy Kay Grusenski At l., the Rev. Elaine Connolly, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, with children in thrift shop run by church (at r.).
Photos courtesy Kay Grusenski
At l., the Rev. Elaine Connolly, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, with children in thrift shop run by church (at r.).


Many have been in a situation like this one — especially since 2009 when the Great Recession hit.

You have an incredible job interview. After all this time — someone finally bit and called you after you sent in your resume. But then it hits you. You’re excited. You’re ready to show how great you are to a possible new boss. And when you go to choose what you’ll wear — boom! Nothing appropriate.

How are you going to look your best? You can’t afford to go out to get a brand-new outfit for the interview — you’re lucky there’s enough gas in the car to get to the interview in the first place. Been there? There now, perhaps? Worry no more.

That’s because Heaven ¢ent, a thrift shop operated by a tremendous group of volunteers, is up and running — and has been since 2011 — on the second floor of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington [you know, where the PBGC is] directly across Kearny Ave. opposite St. Stephen’s Church on the corner of Laurel Ave.

The shop, open every Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., was the brainchild of the church’s then interim pastor — Deb Oosterbam — as an outreach to those who need to buy clothing and other items at a seriously reduced rate — and also to help fund the church’s food pantry, the need for which continues to grow these days.

Since the shop opened in June 2011, it’s grown from being in a small space — to one large room and four smaller-sized rooms.

And among many other brands, you’ll find clothing for men, women and children from Banana Republic, Michael Kors, Ann Klein, the Gap, Aeropostale, Dockers and Ann Taylor. You’ll also find small appliances, kitchenware, picture frames, books, CDs and DVDs.

There’s also a selection of shoes, costume jewelry and accessories.

And perhaps best of all — if you’ve got children who attend Kearny Public Schools, there’s an array of school uniform shirts available for just $2.50.

But these items don’t just appear out of the blue.

There’s a group of volunteers, known as the “Core 4,” who come to the store, accept donations, sort items, put them out for display and more — and they are Mary Pettigrew, MaryLynn Pettigrew, Pat Horvath and John McCartney.

McCartney also works to maintain the physical space of the thrift shop with small projects as needed. And there are countless others who donate their time to do the very same on a less-regular basis.

For the Rev. Elaine Connolly, the church’s current pastor, the way the thrift shop all came together and the rewards and results of the shop, are an incredible addition to her ministry to the church. The pantry gets stocked — and people are able to be outfitted with gently worn clothing they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

“I never cease to be amazed by what has happened here,” Connolly said. “In 2010, the economy was awful and there were many people looking for work going on interviews, children needing school clothes and an immigrant population that was often supporting a family back in their home country increasing.

“Our community had increased food pantry requests. It’s a community place, a part of the mission, of the church that sponsors the hospitality of the Bible — whether you are a regular church goer or not. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in action, as the church reaches out to create a holy space for those who are the faithful to its teachings. It’s the interaction of community and strangers becoming friends to give to one another by donation or purchase.”

If you’re interested in donating gently-used clothing or other items, you can do so when the thrift shop is open: Wednesday or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 663 Kearny Ave., Kearny. Contact the church by calling 201-991- 3513 or by visiting www.fpca.us.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.