They saved the hoopla for Monday, but quietly the St. Vincent de Paul Society's thrift store in Lake County for months has been open and helping struggling families.
"We found that since poverty has increased by 45 percent in the last two years in Lake and (northern) Cook counties, we felt we had to do something," said Frieda Bertello, executive director of the Chicago-based nonprofit.
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Described as the oldest charity in Chicago, St. Vincent de Paul volunteers have been helping those in need in Cook and Lake counties since 1857.
The organization in 2010 began planning for a thrift store, its third, as a means of raising funds to meet the increasing demand for assistance and to support a long-range goal of providing transitional housing. A long-vacant space at 1125 S. Milwaukee Ave. on the north end of the Greentree shopping center in Libertyville was selected, and work began on the 12,000-square-foot prototype store early last year.
"It was a vanilla box, but everything had to be redone," according to Bertello.
The store featuring low-cost clothing, furniture, household items and other selections opened without fanfare this past November. The society also operates thrift stores in Chicago and Midlothian.
The store offers "a low-cost, high quality shopping experience" for bargain hunters as well as those of unlimited means, Bertello said.
An official grand opening is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday to include a blessing by Bishop George Rassas, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Bill Soucie, president of the board of St. Vincent de Paul, and Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler will be on hand. Special sales are planned for the next week.
St. Vincent de Paul comprises 11 district councils in Cook and Lake counties. The Libertyville store will help meet demand as there is a void in Lake County, according to Bertello.
"All of our conferences, especially in Lake County, have more people coming to them for assistance, food, clothing, rent, utilities," she said. "There are people who come to us who have been out of work not just for months but for years. When people come to us, they're desperate."
The organization helped more than 460,000 people during the year ending Sept. 30, 2012. The Libertyville thrift store employs 13, many of whom previously had been out of work, according to St. Vincent de Paul.