Payette Ministers Through Banana Box Bargains

The saying most of us have heard — “no money, no mission” — is turned upside down by Idaho's Payette Adventist Church. They have a way to make money for mission. The Banana Box Bargain Store is a source of funds for ministry while being a ministry itself.

Charleen Williams, wife of the Payette Church pastor, is the one who brought the concept to Idaho. She had done the same thing in Alaska and is excited to have an even bigger store to work with now.

The store provides bargain-priced food items Williams buys at a discount from suppliers because they are “less than perfect." There may be a dented can. Other products come from a case in which one item was damaged and now the supplier cannot sell the rest of the case at retail prices. The items are sold to the Banana Box store at a bargain price. Then the Banana Box Store sells them, and the community can affordably purchase such things as cereal, gluten-free pancake mix and other nonperishable foods. They meet the staff and sees the church in a positive way while saving money.

Banana Box Bargains also includes a thrift store with donated clothing items. These are sold in the store but also available to help those in need of clothing.

The funds from the sales and donated clothing go to help the community. Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario, Oregon, has been utilizing their services on a regular basis. Glenn Blankenship, a Saint Alphonsus social worker, says he has used it about once a month since he learned of the services. He has obtained food for people who were not able to get out and buy food. Payette Church has provided clothes to his clients as well. He believes some of those people receive the food on a regular basis. He knows the Payette Church can help with a challenging need, on short notice without a bunch of paperwork. He says the biggest help is to provide for lodging for someone who either is with a person who is in the hospital or who is a patient being discharged and who needs a bridge to other services.

Blankenship tells a story of a woman in her 20s who desperately needed a place to stay for one night, allowing time to set up services through the Community in Action program. She had been exposed to coronavirus. Through the Banana Box funds, the Payette Church provided a stay for one night in a motel before other agencies were able to help her with housing and a job. 

Later Blankenship heard from Community in Action that this woman had become a success story. She was still working, in housing and doing well. Blankenship reported that, without the bridge the church had provided, this success story might not have happened. He called the bridge a vital part of the success. He very much appreciates the ability to have such a community resource available.

I am a nurse at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center, and my job is to follow up with patients after discharge from the hospital. The Banana Box ministry provided food to one of my patients who was moving and had no food.Because she couldn't go shopping after she was discharged from the hopsital, area churches and volunteers made sure to deliver food to this patient and her family in a town more than 20 miles away.

The Payette Church and the ministry they are providing through Banana Box Bargains is a blessing to the communities along the border between Idaho and Oregon. 

Note: Danette Reitz is a member of the Vale, Oregon, church and works in Ontario, Oregon, just across the border from Payette, Idaho.