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Thrift store moves from sodden home

These are busy days for Ann Nardi.

"We're getting everything ready," said Nardi, president of Helping Hands of Our Lady of Fatima, the group that runs the Helping Hands Thrift Store.

Frances destroyed the store's location on Inverness Boulevard several weeks ago. Now Helping Hands is getting ready to reopen at a new location just a few miles away on U.S. 41 S.

The store will open Tuesday morning at 5164 S Florida Ave. (U.S. 41).

The group has worked over the past few weeks to collect any salvageable items, such as clothing racks, from the Inverness Boulevard store. During the storm, the rain-soaked ceilings collapsed. The insulation that had been inside the ceiling had fallen onto clothes, rugs and other donated items.

The group members are now bringing clothes from storage at Our Lady of Fatima Church and are taking donations from parishioners and the public to fill the new store, Nardi said. A couple who heard about the damage to the old store donated a patio set, Nardi said.

"People have been extremely generous," she said.

The group combines the proceeds from the store with donations from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church parishioners to buy canned food for the church's food pantry, to pay the utility bills of needy families in Inverness and Floral City, and to produce food baskets. The group also distributes food baskets to families for Thanksgiving.

Raghuram Vadarevu can be reached at 564-3627 or