HAVERHILL — With a name like Ruth’s House, some might think it’s a shelter for those in need or maybe a soup kitchen.
Whether you’re a disabled veteran in need of a winter coat, a family leaving a shelter for an apartment and in need some furniture, or a school child who can use a backpack, Ruth’s House provides these and many other things to make life a little better for so many people throughout the Merrimack Valley.
Even if you’re not a client, Ruth’s House is a charitable thrift store where anyone can shop and find a bargain — with proceeds going to help continue the organization’s mission of providing clothing and job training opportunities to those in need.
“Our referral clients receive four, $50 vouchers per year they can use in our thrift shop in Lafayette Square,” said Jessica Bolduc, director of marketing and community outreach for Ruth’s House. “They can use the vouchers to purchase clothing for children and adults, kitchen items, home furnishings, women’s purses and many other things that help bring some ease and happiness into their lives. It’s one less thing they have to worry about.”
Ruth’s House served 2,367 referred clients last year, with 922 of them being under the age of 18. And that doesn’t include how many members of the general public stop by to shop.
The majority of clients are referred to Ruth’s House by local shelters such the Emmaus in Haverhill and Lazarus House in Lawrence, churches, Community Action, veteran’s services organizations and agencies that provide public assistance and other organizations serving those in need.
“If they are not referred by a church or a shelter or some other organization, we ask that our clients simply register with us by stopping by and filling out a referral application,” Bolduc said.
With vouchers in hand, clients can go on a shopping spree for new or gently used essentials. Everything is priced at a steep discount, such as T-shirts for one or two dollars each, jeans for $5, office clothing such as suits for $15 to $20, and children’s outfits for $5.
“Our referral coordinator, Ruby Bruno, will walk a client through the store to figure out what they can use and how much they can get with their vouchers,” Bolduc said. “All of our clients are very grateful for what they receive. A lot of times women will have their children with them and the children are very excited about getting new clothing. Especially back to school clothing to start the new school year.”
The shop is able to restock its shelves through the generosity of the public.
“We’re always accepting new and gently worn clothing, as well as furniture that we can arrange to pick up, as well as donations of jewelry, accessories, household goods, small electronics and other items in good working condition,” Bolduc said.
Ruth’s House also offers job training opportunities through various agencies including the Department of Transitional Assistance, Career Resources and the Senior Network.
“We also provide skills training for those looking to reenter the job market,” Bolduc said.
Ruth’s House also offers a complimentary book program. Referral clients can choose two free age-appropriate books from the thrift shop’s book section for children under the age of 18.
“We have lots of children’s books as well as novels and cook books that older readers to choose from,” Bolduc said.
As a thrift shop, there are great deals to be found on items ranging from DVDs and CDs at 99 cents each, two books for 99 cents, as well as brand name boutique women’s clothing and accessories, jewelry, special occasion dresses, men’s suits, sweatshirts, shoes, hats, and other articles of clothing for adults, teens, young children and infants.
The store also has a furniture department with items such as new and gently used couches, office chairs and desks, baby cribs, bed frames and headboards, dining room tables and sets, end tables, lamps, home goods including toasters, waffle makers and coffee makers, all pre-tested and in working condition, as well as dinner ware, table linens, silverware, cooking utensils, kitchen gadgets and more.
If you’re in the market for an electronic organ, Ruth’s House currently has one in stock.
“Some people think that Ruth’s House only caters to our referral clients, which is the heart of our organization, but we also serve the general public,” Bolduc said. “Whether you are in need of a gift or you are simply looking for a bargain, Ruth’s House is the place to go.”
Ruth’s House also offers a Senior Coat Program. Along with a warm winter coat, qualifying seniors also receive a winter hat and a pair of gloves.
To qualify you must be over 55 years old (identification is required) and have proof of enrollment in one of the following programs: Mass Health, SSI, Food Stamps, Social Security Disability, Nutrition Programs and Veteran’s Aid Fuel Assistance.
A signed referral from a participating agency, house of worship or ministry is also required. Hours are by appointment, Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Please call 978-521-5575 to schedule your appointment.
“We have many winter coats available, but we continue to welcome community donations of new or gently-used winter coats, as well as monetary donations to help supplement this program,” Bolduc said. “With temperatures continuing to drop, it’s our hope to get the word out to Seniors in need about our Coat Program.”
Ruth’s House is currently running its annual holiday raffle featuring a small Christmas tree decorated with $400 worth of lottery scratch tickets. Raffle tickets are $5 for two tickets, $10 for five tickets and $20 for 12 tickets. Either stop by Ruth’s House or email email@example.com and include your name, address, phone number and the amount of raffle tickets you would like to purchase. You will receive a link for payment through PayPal.
Ruth’s House is open Monday through Saturday for the holiday season. Visit online at www.ruthshouse.org.
Ruth’s House Semi-Annual Sale
What it is: Everything in the store will be on sale for 50 percent off.
When: Dec. 10 to Dec. 24
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Sundays.