For more than 25 years, the cities of Woodbury, Cottage Grove and other surrounding communities have had a secret Santa of sorts—Basic Needs Thrift Shop, a nonprofit organization founded in 1996, which was created to provide aid and resources to disadvantaged families in the South Washington County area.
“We started as a community-based thrift store to resell gently used goods at deeply discounted prices, then grew our programming to meet the needs expressed by our customers,” says executive director Vickie Snyder. Following COVID-19, Snyder notes the increase of food insecurity, substance use and poor mental health. “In 2021, the board of directors made several changes, which included the change of our mission and the expansion of our programs,” she says. “[It] includes addressing housing concerns, addressing food insecurity, our Voucher Program [for] clothing and other coordinated activities, such as gas cards, repair help and special events.”
Programs, such as the voucher system, allow individuals to find resources through its food pantry, thrift shop and community events. In the past year, Snyder says it provided 56 vouchers to families—totaling to more than $6,500. “It’s providing food security, so they can afford their rent or mortgage or pay for life-saving medication,” she says. “It’s hearing personal testimonies from customers who can afford winter clothes or new shoes for their children from our thrift store. We see our impact on a daily basis when voucher clients arrive feeling overwhelmed and leave our store with everything they need in hand.”
Basic Needs works with a variety of individuals, including people without housing, domestic violence survivors, college students and families with young children, newly employed adults, veterans and more. “... Success is seeing our clients receive the support they need, instilling self confidence, empowering them and helping them achieve self-sufficiency,” Snyder says. It also partners with a variety of businesses and charitable organizations, including the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce, South Washington County Schools, county libraries and more.
“The impact of our efforts is felt when community members open up to us about their needs, the help they require and the references they make about our services,” Snyder says.
By the Numbers
Over the last 25 years, Basic Needs has provided over $1.3 million in clothing, bedding, furniture and kitchen items. In the last two years, Basic Needs has:
- Awarded 768 vouchers, usable toward items including clothing, furniture, etc.
- Recycled 147 tons of non-sellable items
- Sponsored 12 free events for children
Basic Needs has also started several new programs, including Tools 4 Teachers, a free little pantry, a holiday gift program, sponsored Thanksgiving meals, a community garden and has served monthly meals to families in need.
Basic Needs Thrift Shop
6990 80th St. S. Suite 200, Cottage Grove; 651.458.9786