Thrift and Uplift - News Oklahoma

July 5, 2018
A local nonprofit started by the Muslim faith community has opened a thrift store to generate funds to help the community's neediest residents. The Surayya Anne Foundation of Oklahoma City opened the store in March at 1143 N Meridian. The store is next door to a medical clinic in a small storefront near the corner of NW 10 and Meridian Avenue. On a recent weekday, DeBorah Boneta, the organization's executive director, worked to place newly donated items on the store's shelves with the help of her daughter, Courtney Boneta, and Becky Atiyeh, the foundation's president. Clothing, kitchen items, jewelry, purses, small appliances, scarves and an assortment of knickknacks fill the store. Seasonal items are grouped together, and the store also has an assortment of clothing in African, Arab and Pakistani styles donated by the Muslim faith community, Boneta said.
The Surayya Anne Foundation was founded in 2008 after a group of Muslim women in Tulsa decided they wanted to provide a haven for women in need. The nonprofit offers transitional shelter for women and children and also assistance for individuals experiencing other types of crises. The foundation began in Tulsa, and Boneta opened the organization's Oklahoma City branch about three years ago in the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City's Mercy Mission Building at 3840 N St. Clair Ave. Boneta said the thrift store will help the foundation continue to offer a variety of assistance, including food, utility assistance, counseling, clothing, life and interview skills and bus passes. The nonprofit's goal is to help people gain independence and stability. Initial donations to stock the store's shelves came pouring in from the Oklahoma City-area Muslim community. "They responded favorably. They're very good about calling and asking what we need, what people are buying and what people have com in and asked for that we don't have," Boneta said. Currently, donations also have been coming from other sources, as well, as word spreads about the store's needs. "We've been so blessed to come across really supportive people. I know there's a lot of backlash for a lot of things, but we have always been supported and have great partners, inside and outside the Muslim community," Boneta said. Atiyeh said the store has been a fun project. She said the main challenge in getting it up and running was funding. "We opened this on a shoestring and a dime," Atiyeh said. She came up with one idea to raise funds that proved successful. Atiyeh had her friends and family donate money for the store instead of purchasing gifts for her birthday. She said some of those funds will help pay for signage for the store. Boneta and Atiyeh said the store could use more volunteers to help perform tasks like sorting through donations and preparing items to go out onto the sales floor. Courtney Boneta, who works as the foundation's junior intake coordinator, is currently a staff member at the thrift store, but volunteer help is needed as more donations come in and the store begins to attract more customers. Meanwhile, DeBorah Boneta said she has been pleased that the store has been a source of blessing to Surayya Anne Foundation clients beyond raising money for foundation programs. She said clients in need are given a voucher or gift certificate to purchase items like clothing or household goods at the store. "It saves their dignity and we value people's dignity," she said. Read More at: