About Jane Knuth
Jane Knuth is the author of Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time and Thrift Store Graces: Finding God’s Gifts in the Midst of the Mess. She has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the last 17 years. She is also a math tutor. Knuth and her husband, Dean, live in Portage, Michigan.
Contact: Facebook

Story Hoarder

We get donations from families of deceased hoarders occasionally at St. Vinnies. They bring in boxes and bags of everything imaginable, most of which should have been discarded decades ago. Hoarders are a trendy fixation. There are reality shows about hoarders, books about hoarders, magazine articles about them, and jokes about them. There are newspaper hoarders, food hoarders, fabric hoarders, and cat hoarders. With all the recent press about hoarding, many people are looking into […]

Unstylish

She is unstylish in the best sense of the word. She walks into the store with a bag too big and bulky to be tucked neatly under her arm. Her slacks have smudges on both knees from some task that required bending them. Her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, the cut that the population of women who cannot afford to go to the beauty shop every six weeks wears. The only jewelry she […]

Authentic Gifts

It is National Reading Month, and I am an author invited to speak to grade-school children at the local Catholic school. I am unsure what to talk about. I do not write books for children. But my own daughters attended this school when they were young, and I write books. Apparently, these are good enough credentials. I tell the attentive, upturned faces a story from the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store about a child […]

Encounter in an Airport

I am waiting for my husband’s very delayed flight to arrive. The baggage carousels stopped revolving over 20 minutes ago, and the only other people in the area are slumped in their plastic chairs without apparent anticipation. The chairs across from me are backed-up to a stainless steel wall, so I shift over there. Now I have a place to lean my head. Reaching in my pocket, I draw out a ruby-red string of rosary […]

God Is All About Balance

Char, a widow and grandmother who has assisted in many family medical needs lately, tells me that God is all about balance. “My life has three main themes,” she says. “Family, volunteer work, and fun. I’m closest to God when they are all in balance. I make a to-do list every morning with subtitles: Go, Get, Do, and Call. But before I make the list, I read my devotions. Tucked into my prayer book is […]

Joy in the Neighborhood

People ask me if volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul store is depressing, and I honestly tell them that it is not. There is a joy in this work that defies the reality of the impoverished neighborhood that leans so heavily against the walls of our building. And our customers bring that joy through the door with them when they walk in. Leonard strides into the St. Vincent de Paul store with a hearty […]