Bringing out the Best is both the name of a thrift store and its goal: to bring out the best in the Tucson community.

The Midtown store on Speedway Blvd. near Craycroft Rd. opened last spring.

Its been a lot of work. A lot of rewarding work, said manager Valorie Grega.

What were empty shelves then are now full racks and stacks of donations. Not only filling up the *store, but filling a *need for some Tucsonans getting back on their feet.

The store leaders partner with non-profits and groups like Sister Jos Womens Center, Salvation Army, Interfaith Community Services and Our Family Services.

Then, items like furniture, dishes, bedding and even food are donated to previously un-housed people who are moving into new, empty homes.

They are so grateful, said store co-founder Esthermarie Hillman. Its such a blessing to them. Were making it home.

Hillman loads and unloads much of those items herself, driving a pickup truck to each new home. The partners are filling about six homes a month right now.

Its really cool when you have kids that are sleeping on the floor or on an air mattress, and suddenly youre delivering a bed to them. Its awesome, Hillman said.

Bringing Out The Best also hosts card-making and arts and crafts classes.

I think part of it is camaraderie, Hillman explained. You people that, some of them are older and theyre looking for something to do. Theyre looking for friendship. Theyre looking for connection You can learn skills where you can then take those to the next step.

Sewing and jewelry repair classes at the store are also in the works, to offer more skills to help people land jobs.

Were exceeding what I expected from the beginning when we first walked into this building, said Grega. Its come a really long way. And we have huge plans so I see it changing all the time.

Its changing, while becoming a true community lifeline.