From a young age, it was Cory Patterson’s goal to be involved in mission work. His mother Dee Patterson said he talked about traveling to Mexico for mission work since he was only nine years old.
“He wanted to do mission work so bad, but he just never was able to,” Dee said.
Unfortunately, on May 18, 2008, Cory’s life at 26-years-old, was tragically cut short, and his aspirations of doing mission work was never fulfilled.
Cory’s dream lay dormant for two years after his death, but then after some thought within his church, members decided to honor Cory by starting a local mission. Its goal was aimed at helping area people with things they need. Whether it be food, clothing, furniture or any other type of help, they wanted to give it. Because of his love for mission work, the people of Faith Temple Church decided to name the mission after the young man, calling it Cory’s Hands of Hope.
The mission started small, as an idea brought to Gary Curtis, a member and mission volunteer for Faith Temple Church.
“We had talked about doing a local mission for the church,” Curtis said. “Then two weeks later, I was told we had a building.”
The old bit shop the church purchased is at the corner of Seventh Street and Hickory, and when Curtis got his first look at it, he knew right away it was going to be a chore.
“We had to clean it up because all the walls were black from all of the bit work they did,” Curtis said. “So we cleaned up the walls, put up some new ones, and started making it work.”
At first, Curtis said they were a relatively small operation, and their Hands of Hope program was solely for providing food to needy families. But things soon expanded, and they started Cory’s Hands of Hope as a missionary thrift store.
“We take things people have donated to us, clean them up and sort them, then put them out for sale,” Curtis said. “But the money we make goes entirely back into the mission. Not a penny of it goes other places.”
Things like electric, water and property bills are paid with the money made, but all “employees” of the thrift store are volunteers.
As for the merchandise the store sells, that’s where it gets interesting.
“We literally have anything you could think of,” Curtis said.
Rooms full of couches and computer desks, clothing items, toys, shoes, purses and even Christmas decorations provide a clear picture about how important Duncan residents think this mission is. And the prices reflect even more of the mission’s purpose.
“You can give and give and give only so much, but when a person can come in and actually purchase something, there’s a sense of accomplishment for that person, and we want them to feel accomplished and get back on their feet,” Curtis said.
Clothing items sell anywhere from 50 cents to only a few dollars each, and full couches sell for only $35, for families that may not have furniture.
“And a lot of this is nice stuff too,” Curtis said. “And we’re selling it at a price where people who need the help can afford it.”
The thrift store has only been in operation for two months, and already every inch of the building is filled to capacity.
“I’ve built clothing racks in just about every possible place I can,” Curtis said. “We’ve just been so blessed with everything everyone has given us.”
With the amount of donations the mission has received, it’s bound to receive items that simply could not be sold back to people, but Curtis said even those items still don’t go to waste.
“If we get some clothing with big grease stains or are torn or something like that, we’ll recycle them,” he said.
“We’ll bail them up and send them on a truck to Dallas and could receive up to 16 cents per pound, and that money will also be turned back into the mission.”
Curtis said in the short time the thrift store has been open, they have seen an amazing amount of support, and they are even working with their own youth to begin a weekend mission project for them.
Dee believes that Cory would want nothing more than to be a part of their church’s new mission project. And while he might not be there in person, in spirit he will continue to inspire others to contribute to mission work.
“I don’t think he would want it any other way,” Dee said.
— Kevin Kerr is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354 Ext. 147 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.