Unsung Hero: Community Helps Business Rebuild

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By Ashley Smith
By Josue

CARTERVILLE  Create-a-Smile Thrift Store in Carterville has been open for more than a decade.

Profits from the thrift store are used to help provide dental services to those who can't afford the expense. Donations alone are what fills the store on a regular basis.

"We've had a lot of community support, a lot of volunteers it's been tough but it's been challenging, but I like a challenge," said Create-a-Smile Thrift Store and Foundation Owner John Flora.

John Flora started Create a Smile Thrift Store in 2003 and moved to 115 S.  Division St. in Carterville a few years later.  In that time he has dealt with two different fires.

In 2010 a fire broke out in the back of the building causing damage to a large portion of the shop. Then in February of 2013 a fire at the Corbell Electronics building next door caused smoke and water damage to the thrift store.

"We had to do all the work ourselves," said John, "All the painting and all the structural work and everything like that and monies were donated by individuals in the community."

John credits the community with keeping the shop in business.  He says after the second fire he wasn't sure if the doors would ever open again because the damage was so extensive.  It ended up taking four months to clean up.

"We had to strip it, get everything out of it, had to get all the clothes out, had to wash all the clothes hangers, because smoke goes everywhere I mean it doesn't discriminate," said John.

John gets help from volunteers like Jay Denham who helps out through a program at Carterville High School.  Jay does everything from cleaning and organizing the merchandise, to helping customers shop. He says the store is a pillar in the community.

"A lot of people that live here don't get to go out to the mall and buy fancy clothes and all that," said Jay Denham, "And they don't have the money they can just come here."

John says without the help of so many generous volunteers and donors he's not sure they would be where they are today.

"We appreciate the community, it's a great community." said John.

A community who has helped this business rise from the ashes to continue serving those in need.

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