South Charlotte

Religious gift shops giving back to the community

Church and Temple gift shops aren't just for religious items anymore.

Many local churches and temples are carrying more popular household products and gifts. A majority of gift shops are run by volunteers, and proceeds are donated to various causes.

The Temple Israel Judaica Shop, 4901 Providence Road, has been operating for more than 40 years. It is run solely by volunteers.

"Ten percent of all shop sales on Wednesdays and Sundays are donated directly to a youth programming fund to provide subsidies and scholarships for Kadima and USY programs, conferences and conventions," says Lisa Strunin, a gift shop volunteers.

The Judaica shop also donates proceeds to the temple to help with operating expenses, the religious school and the temple kitchen. The shop carries more than 100 different talit (prayer shawls), jewelry, holiday-specific items, decorations, children's toys and puzzles, picture frames, home decor, dishes and more.

GOODNEWS, the gift shop at Christ Church at 1412 Providence Road, has been open since 1974. It has more than 100 volunteers who help run the shop for two or more hours a month.

Lynne McAdams, one of the shop managers, said "last year, GOODNEWS donated $52,250 to 29 different outreach projects like Thompson Child and Family Focus, Harvest Center, Friendship Trays, Crisis Assistance and The Relatives."

In addition to religious items, GOODNEWS carries books and cards, baby items, bath, food, men's gifts, stationery, tabletop, children's and women's accessory sections, and a large amount of holiday merchandise.

Temple Beth El, 5101 Providence Road, has a gift shop where the proceeds goes to Temple Beth El families with financial difficulties to pay religious school tuition.

The shop sells traditional Jewish items for holidays, plus jewelry, home decor, clothing, gifts for children, wedding gifts and books; you can even purchase trips to Israel. Shop online at

St. Matthew Gift Shop, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, opened more than five years ago.

The shop carries Catholic merchandise like rosaries, chaplets, prayer cards, Bibles, books, Catechisms, religious statues, a large assortment of Willow Tree angels and holiday gifts. It also has special gifts for baptisms, first communion and confirmation.

"Proceeds from the shop support the St. Matthew outreach ministries, which feed the hungry both at home and abroad. These ministries include but are not limited to St. Matthew Food Pantry, World Food Drive, Loaves & Fishes, Mel's Diner, Men's and Women's Shelters and many other groups and organizations," said operations and facilities director Antoinette Usher.