Red Ribbon Resale in the News
Read more about Red Ribbon Resale and AID Upstate. Heard about us, please contact us here and let us know, we appreciate updates and media releases telling our story.
Red Ribbon Resale needs shoppers, volunteers, donations
Red Ribbon Resale is a charity thrift store owned and operated by AID Upstate. The store is located in the West End of Greenville at 803 Pendleton St. All proceeds from the sale of donated items go directly to help provide supportive services for the clients of AID Upstate.
The AIDS Service Organization provides supportive services to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens Counties. Clients come from all walks of life, and all have been affected by HIV/AIDS -- a disease that does not discriminate by gender, race, sex or age. AID Upstate serves more than 1300 clients in the four-county area by providing help with medical treatments, medications, addiction counseling, housing, transportation, food and more.
Additionally, AID Upstate offers HIV testing to the general public and risk-reduction education and counseling to high-risk communities. Through its outreach efforts, AID Upstate hopes to reduce the spread of HIV through education and compassion. All services are free.
I first became involved with Red Ribbon Resale and AID Upstate when I was hired to open and manage the store. I was unaware that there was such an organization prior to this and did not realize the scope of the HIV/AIDS problem in our area. During my time at Red Ribbon Resale, I made many friends, some who are living with HIV, and some who just want to help in any way they can.
The store is a wonderful place to find all sorts of treasures -- clothing, bric-a-brac, furniture, books, linens and more. When taking in donations, we never know what we will find in the next box or bag. Since AID Upstate is a non-profit organization, donated items are tax deductible.
AID Upstate clients may obtain vouchers to purchase items at Red Ribbon Resale, such as clothing, kitchen or other household items. The store not only provides this valuable service to men, women and children affected by HIV, it also provides a special shopping experience for customers living in the neighborhood. Many West End residents are regular shoppers and some volunteer because they just enjoy being in the store. Meanwhile, some customers travel quite some distance to shop for bargains at Red Ribbon Resale. The store attracts shoppers with many different interests and income levels and seldom does anyone leave empty-handed.
For those wishing to help, there are many opportunities to do so. By donating gently used items, you help Red Ribbon Resale generate money to provide services to men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. By shopping there, you do the same. By volunteering your time, you help make Red Ribbon Resale a pleasant place to shop.
Please call Sonny Divers at 864-235-0607 to see what you can do to make a difference today.
AID Upstate supports those diagnosed with HIV infection
When you walk through the door at Red Ribbon Resale, Nancy Hawkins has something for you. It might be a new shirt or an item for interior decorating, but it will most certainly include a smile and a pamphlet on how to protect yourself from HIV.
The resale store, which has been in business for a little over a year now, helps to support AID Upstate, a nonprofit organization that helps those who have been diagnosed with HIV infection.
And those living with AIDS don't fit easily into a demographic. In fact, Hawkins said surprisingly, the AIDS patient is more likely to be a person like herself.
"We're finding more older people contracting the disease," she said. "Spouses have died or they've divorced and they are dating again. Our generation wasn't raised with sex education. I didn't even get it from my mother!"
The other change is that those living with HIV today are more than 50 percent female, said Andy Hall, director of AID Upstate. "Most of the time, they have contracted it from a male partner," he said.
In Greenville County in 2006, there were 940 cases of AIDS/HIV, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. "And we estimate that there are about 30 percent of that number who have contracted the disease, but haven't yet been diagnosed," Hall said.
Hall said most people here transmitted the disease through unprotected sexual activity, since intravenous drug use is not prevalent in our area. The disease can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, from mother to child in utero or through breast milk and by accidental needle pricks by caregivers of people with AIDS/HIV.
AID Upstate started in 1987 primarily as an educational movement to teach people about the newly discovered disease and its prevention. While education is still an element of the organization, over the years it has moved to "fill in some gaps" Hall said, and now primarily offers financial, medical and social support to lower-income patients living with the disease. It also offers testing for HIV.
Last year, the organization helped approximately 900 people, Hall said.
With federal grants, United Way funds and other donations, the resale shop is not a big contributor to the agency's budget, but Hall said it raises community awareness.
"It's something we can offer to this community and it's a great way to let people know we're here," Hall said. "Nancy is really the face of the organization to the general community."
Hawkins said a huge mix of people come into the resale shop. From wealthy folks looking for a bargain, to low-income folks who walked from down the block, to patients.
"Patients can get vouchers and come in here and shop," she said. "That's the hard part of this job. It can be really sad to see the situations some of these people are in. But at least I can offer them something."
Hawkins started off at Red Ribbon as a volunteer. When the store's first manager, Kathy Barefoot, went to a new position with the Upcountry History Museum, she stepped into the manager's role.
"I love going through the donations. It's like a treasure hunt," she said, adding that the store only stocks high-quality items not in need of repair.
When a supporter of AID Upstate died recently, he gave away his entire estate to the organization, so for months the store was packed with antique furniture and fine collectibles. Not every donation is of that caliber, of course, but Hawkins said the store may re-donate items to other organizations that may not fit their criteria.
Hawkins said she is very proud of what she does and that 95 percent of the feedback she gets from shoppers is that the organization is doing very important work. Hawkins said she has known two people who died of AIDS, "so when I work, I think of them," she said. "Of course they died years ago when you died quickly. Today, I think people are living better quality lives with the disease and for longer."
Hall said early detection and treatment is the key to longevity for someone with HIV. He said AID Upstate helps those who can't afford their medications, helps clients find and keep health insurance, and in some cases, can make short-term housing payments for those who can no longer work.
The organization recently acquired four buildings on the block that is home to the resale shop. One is the administrative office; one is for case management; one is a food pantry. And New Horizon Family Health Services is across the street, and the agency works closely with that group.
"We try to make this a one-stop shop, because transportation is an issue for many of our clients," he said.