Q&A: Tim Tipton, operator of Anna's Angels, a non-profit thrift store

Tim Tipton operates Anna's Angels, a non-profit thrift store started in 2010 that recently moved from Sutherland Avenue to 5710 Kingston Pike. The group works to break the cycle of poverty by awarding college scholarships to Appalachian children.

This effort honors your mother, the late Anna Mae Norton. Why?

My mother was born and raised deep in the hills of western North Carolina among economically devastated farmers and miners, and was able to further her education. She always taught us the importance of giving to underprivileged people. We were very poor growing up but my mother always told us that we were better off than most people. I truly believe she is Anna's Angels.

Who did she help?

My mother used to buy food and clothing for people who were less fortunate than she was. She used to go at Christmas and give gifts to kids that were held in foster care that were wards of the state. She always signed them Santa Claus. Many times she sent money back home to Spillcorn, the community we lived in in Madison County, N.C., to help people buy groceries or pay for medicines.

What made you start Anna's Angels?

I wanted to do something to keep my mother's name alive. My mother was my world; losing her was devastating to me and by doing this I never get to quit thinking about her and she will always be close to my heart.

How do you identify people to help?

The foundation at the community college picks the people we award scholarships to.

What type of donations do you really need?

Household items, like good furniture, pictures, kitchen items, small appliances in working conditions, lamps, jewelry, and anything you can decorate a home with.

What's the dilemma with the clothes donations you've already received?

We have gotten so many clothes that we have no space to put them. So we had to rent a storage building to put them in. We have over 100 large trash bags full of clothes.

What kind of prices and items would customers expect to find at Anna's Angels?

All our clothing and shoes are $3.99 each for adults and our kids' clothing is $1.50 each. I think the most expensive thing we have in the store is wedding dresses for $49.99.

Are there other ways to help?

Yes, people can go to the website and donate money, or they can mail checks payable to Anna's Angels [PO Box 10383, Knoxville, TN 37939]. Or if anyone has a small box truck, we sure could use one. I pick up everything in my Ford Explorer for now.

Do you feel like your mom is still involved?

Oh yeah, by the morals she instilled in me, I do feel like she is here with me. Every time I see someone walk in off the street and ask for clothing—we give it to them.

What are your goals for this year?

To award 10 scholarships of $2,500 each. But we will need a lot of help getting to that goal.

How about this week?

This week my goal is to get the final things at the old store here to the new location.

How about for today?

My goal every day is to wake up and help whoever it is that needs help.

For more information: annasangelstn.org