Flocking Together

Once homeless, local woman has been “feeding sheep” for five years

Cora and Darrell are on a mission.
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Five years ago, Cora Tharp, owner of Amazing Grace Ministries Vintage & Thrift Shoppe, found herself in a tough spot. Her spirit broken, she says she asked God for help.

She remembers the date: August 31, 2014. And she remembers what happened next: She says she heard a voice. 

“Not in a voice like ours — and this had never happened to me before – he said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” Tharp responded, “‘I don’t know how.’”

But the very next day, she was unexpectedly gifted $400 by a friend. “So, I used that money to make a bunch of marinara sauce [to feed people]. I used the balance of the money to fill 30 milk carton boxes with food.” The day after, Tharp had a whole family to feed. And then another family came to her, and then another, until she ran out of the boxes.

She set about establishing a food and clothing pantry. And then her friend Kim, a Baptist pastor
in Raleigh, told her she needed a storefront and secured her a shop — even taking care of the first few months’ rent. 

After that, the miracles just kept coming. “The stories of my life, since I started the ministry, are just like that over and over and over again,” says Tharp.

How has your store grown?

It’s spread into two buildings and has been completely filled by our vendors [who rent spaces to sell vintage and thrifted items]. My husband, Darrell, quit his job a year-and-a-half ago to run the operations here.

Your work goes pretty far beyond the store, though …

We serve as a crisis and assist corporation, as well as a disaster-relief organization. We give to Honduras, providing specific items that they need each year. [Locally] we work with other ministries, including Jail Ministries, Open Arms, Safelight, Hendersonville’s First Baptist Church, Only Hope, and the American Legion.

And what are you supplying?

This year alone we handed out over 3,000 pieces of clothing, over 200 backpacks stuffed with school supplies, and 250 Easter baskets. For Thanksgiving, we give away a turkey and the condiments to families who can’t afford a Thanksgiving dinner. They know it’s here, so they’ll come in around that time to get their meals. 

What goes on in December?

For Christmas time, we give away hundreds and hundreds of gifts. Parents come in at half-hour increments, showing us proof of their children and their income. We let them pick out what they want for their children, and then give them a ham with the fixings and extra food for the children.

How do you think your past has changed your life?

I was healed by God. I didn’t want to feel my pain anymore, I just wanted to help someone else. And in that, there is incredible healing.

For the holidays, Amazing Grace Ministries & Thrift Shoppe
(317 Ave. East, Hendersonville) is accepting donations in the form of toys, food, clothing, and money. Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm, closed Sunday. For more information, call 828-329-1817,
see foramazinggrace.com, or e-mail info@foramazinggrace.com.

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