Mandy Schlatman dresses a mannequin at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Mandy Schlatman dresses a mannequin at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Mandy Schlatman enjoys making displays that showcase clothes for sale at the Van Wert Salvation Army Store. That process involves dressing mannequin, setting up special displays and placing season displays in windows that will attract customers.

“I love placing clothes, jewelry, hats and shoes on mannequin to show how they come together,” said Schlatman, an employee at the Salvation Army store. “I usually have three on display, one for children, one for adult men and one for adult women.”

After spending much of her life working in Home Health Care, Schlatman admitted that she needed a change in her life.

“I started doing a form of Home Health Care when I was 13-years-old when I started taking care of my grandparents,” said Schlatman. “After 13, I had something traumatic happen to me. My grandparents were my pride and joy. I helped grandpa when he wasn’t well.

“I worked in Home Health Care and I lost a lot of people I was attached to,” added Schlatman. “I needed a change.”

Schlatman sees her employment at the Salvation Army as another way of reaching out to people. She loves setting up displays that will attract sales, help people purchase clothes for their families at a low price and raise money for God’s work through the Salvation Army. In addition, she appreciates the opportunities that arise to talk to and pray with customers that have need.

“I love to help people. It’s no problem for me to talk to anybody that needs help. If you need it, you need it,” observed Schlatman. “I love this kind of work atmosphere. We’re all like a family here. We laugh together and cry together.”

When she hears of special needs for medical assistance, food pantry items and other assistance, she encourages people to go uptown and talk to someone at the main Salvation Army headquarters which is located on Cherry Street across from the YWCA.

Schlatman was born in Bryan and graduated from Bryan High School. Her husband (David) graduated from Van Wert High School and works for Grief Brothers. They have six children, five girls and a son that passed away.

“Work here is like a treasure hunt,” said Schlatman. “You never know what will be here. We move it through as quickly as we can; when something comes in, we price it and put it on the shelves. We have people that come in here twice a day to see what is here.”

“Everything we do here goes into the community,” continued Schlatman. “Families wear the clothes in the community and donate more things to the community. Sometimes people come in and buy something small just because they need encouragement.”

Schlatman noted that all Bibles or things of special spiritual assistance are free.

“We hear all kinds of stories about special needs in families. We often pray for those who give us requests and we pass them on to our leaders uptown. We try to reach out to the community all that we can,” added Schlatman. “We do things like go up to Fountain Park for the school back pack time.”