by BRITTANY HALL
As you travel down Hwy 80 and into the small community of Adrian, you’ll be greeted by a sign that says, “Welcome to Adrian, Home of The Hinton House.” If you aren’t a local, your mind may begin to wonder what a special place the Hinton House must be to hold such a legacy… ‘Was it the home of an early settler?’ Was it the home of local athlete whose talents allowed him to be recognized all over the world?’ Well no. It’s a place much more wholesome and worthy of attention, that either of those things. As you travel further into town, you’ll find another sign directing you down a small city street. If followed, you’ll be led to 116 South James Street. A beautiful, brick, ranch style home, with porch covered archways that almost beg you to come in. The side of the carport is adorned with a banner and a cross, indicating that this must be the place.
While it looks like just a normal home from the outside, these walls, both inside and out, have witnessed the changing of lives and have helped homes become better homes through its services. Owned by Dr. J. Jack Hinton, The Hinton House is a compassionate ministry that partners with the ‘I’m In Crew’, a locally organized network of 1,200 members who are dedicated to their mission of providing true kindness by helping someone in need and expecting nothing in return.
While the Hinton House is a new establishment, it’s roots were planted long before Dr. Hinton himself even realized its purpose. After more than 40 years of service, Dr. Hinton retired from a successful practice where he ran occupational medical, health, safety, and environmental functions in the Oil & Gas Industry. Not only did his career give him the opportunity to travel and live globally, it also led to wider horizons. Hinton served as Dean of a University in Kazakhstan in Central Asia for two years. After living life abroad and the unfortunate passing of his wife from a long battle with cancer, Dr. Hinton retired and returned home to Adrian in 2019 to care for his father, mother, and sister. It was during this time that Hinton’s life began to change for an even greater good and the Hinton House began to blossom into the place that it is today.
In 2019, Dr. Hinton learned of a critical need being faced by 'I'm In Crew'. The organization had run out of space and was turning down donations of needed furniture, appliances, and other valuable items. Turning these items down meant that the families and individuals who could use them, would not be getting them. Keith Soles, who is the founder, and driver behind the success of 'I’m In Crew' explained the situation to Dr. Hinton, and it turned out to be a pivotal moment where a light sparked in Hinton's heart inspiring him to help.
“I had bought a property that was formerly owned by Adrian High School’s Coach Drake, in 2006.” Hinton explained. “For me, it was an investment opportunity that I just hadn’t done anything with.”
Little did he know, that his “investment opportunity”, was provided for him by a higher power with a higher purpose, and it would eventually be a haven of home goods for thousands in need.
“I had never felt pushed to do anything with the property, until in December of 2019. It was during one of my daily devotions that I was inclined to approach Keith about allowing the I’m In Crew to use the property to store the items that they were having to turn down.” Hinton said.
After the holidays were over and the two had a chance to meet, they found their way over to the beautiful brick home located at 116 South James Street in downtown Adrian.
“I remember that cold winter day in early January of 2020, when Keith met me to see the property.” Hinton said as he reminisced, “As I was showing him the house, he received a phone call about a washer and dryer that was being offered for donation. I specifically remember Keith telling the caller, ‘If you had called me five minutes earlier, I would have had to turn you down, but I’m currently standing in a house that’s been graciously offered for us to use, so I can take them.’” Hinton said with a smile, thinking back on that moment.
“It was early February, and the crew had begun to set up permanency in their new space. Everything was unfolding beautifully, proving further that this was meant to be and all a part of God's plan. It was at this same time that Dr. Hinton received the heartbreaking news that his father had sadly passed away. Trying to cope and roll with the motions of grief while still giving all his faith to God, Hinton was approached by Soles who asked if they could give their organization the name, “The Hinton House”, in honor of Dr. Hinton’s father. From that, the early ministry, a partnership, and the legacy of The Hinton House, was born.
In the beginning, The Hinton House only served as a warehouse of the I’m In Crew. During this time, the carport, driveway, and front yard was used for their periodic ‘reverse yard sales’. However, they have since changed their goals after being inspired by two key members and volunteers, retired Salvation Army Officers, Jim, and Dee Tooley, who provided the group with their philanthropy experience to expand and run the ministry. Their vision for The Hinton House was that it could also be open to the public three days a week for three hours each day, in addition to being a facility that sources free goods during outdoor giveaway events. Thus, a two-armed ministry was developed.
“We started warehousing donations in January 2020, and our first “Reverse Yard Sale was in April that year. It was a tremendous success and word spread quickly. Now, we’re serving nearly 2,000 individuals every three months, representing more than 600 families. That’s incredible when you realize that’s all in three hours in each of only the 13 days we’re open per month.” Hinton explained.
The Hinton House is also affiliated with the Mt. Olive Church of the Nazarene who is well known locally for their monthly Food Bank, which serves hundreds. Through their affiliation with Mt. Olive Church of the Nazarene, which is a 501(c)(3) organization, The Hinton House operates as a non-profit. Their earnings are always $0.00, as everything is free to the public. The program also utilizes all volunteer assistance, pays no salaries, and everything received is through donation alone.
“Everything is free, no matter its value. Even if we assist in helping to deliver something or have to travel to get something that is being donated; there is no charge.” Hinton explained, “We provide clothing, household goods, small and large appliances, home furnishings, furniture, linens, home medical equipment and supplies, cookware, dishes, decorations, children’s toys, games, and school supplies. But most importantly, we’re a listening ear and a whispered prayer, when it’s most needed.” He said with a smile.
There are two operational facilities at The Hinton House. The house is open to the public to walk-in and shop for clothing, household items, linens, decorations, and other small supplies. There are separate dedicated rooms for women’s clothing, men’s clothing, children’s clothing, linens, kitchen necessities, and general household goods. On the outside of the property, there is a barn that stores more immense items. Access to the barn requires a BARN PASS, where the public is escorted to see furniture, appliances, or any large home furnishings that they may need. The Hinton House also has a very special place for the items that go untouched, too.
“We have reciprocal arrangements with other groups, such as the Salvation Army, Rise Up, Teen Challenge, and the Christian Family Center, to supply them with items for their ministries that haven’t been taken from The Hinton House.
These organizations also inform us of unique needs that we can be of assistance with.” Hinton explained. The support from sister organizations, the community, their ministry, and so many others have not gone unnoticed. Hinton says that without these amazing people, none of this would have ever been possible. I want to say thank you to Keith Soles, for helping give us our start and letting us be an active member of the I’m In Crew network. Thank you to Jim and Dee Tooley, for not just their vision to expand the ministry, but to tirelessly invest their time to see it through, day after day, week after week. Thank you to our current core volunteers, Sandra Bailes, Cheryl Harvey, Vicky Carter, Lisa Foskey, Glenn Weaver, Gloria Meeks, and Liz Dreher, for their tireless efforts to receive, sort, display, keep all items fresh, and assist with giveaway’s. Thank you to the Mt Olive Church of the Nazarene and the Pine Hill Holiness Church for their monthly financial assistance that helps towards operational expenses. Thank you, Wynola Smith - City of Adrian Mayor and City of Adrian Council Members – Michelle Leirer-Love and Suzanne Hutchinson, who sit on our executive committee and volunteer their time and efforts. And thank you to the Marketplace, for their faithful advertising of The Hinton House in their weekly paper.
Among the already inspiring moves this Godsend of an organization is making throughout Emanuel County and the lives that they’re changing from their kindness, The Hinton House
is also a proud partner with the City of Adrian, sponsoring annual Family Fun
Days and July 4th Celebrations; even manning the popular concession stand.
The Hinton House is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, unless it’s a holiday. There’s generally no preparation needed to visit, unless large items that require special transport are desired. For those, the volunteers ask that you have a truck or trailer, as well as help to load it, if possible.
If you’re interested in donating to The Hinton House, you can message them through their Facebook Page at The Hinton House or join their Facebook group by searching The I’m In Crew network. The Hinton House accepts all re-usable donations ranging from a box, or a bag of goods, to the contents of an entire home during their open hours. However, if a donation cannot be delivered during those times, the carport is always open to the public to leave donations.
“The Lord certainly knows what He’s doing.” Hinton said with a smile, “We think, ‘what are we going to do with all this stuff?’ Whenever we get it, but it seems we get it just in time. At the end of 2020, there were five separate families that had lost their homes to fire, and the gift of an entire home’s contents was just what they needed, to give them all a new start.”
Dr. Hinton says that the goal of the Hinton House is simple, “Be Jesus”.
“I remember early on, at one of our Volunteer Team Meetings where we were entertaining the idea of writing our Mission Statement. After the discussion, it was as if our purpose and meaning unanimously bloomed in each of our minds. What we’re meant to do here, what we’re all about, is to simply be Jesus. The minutes of that meeting elaborated that, ‘It’s not about the ‘stuff’ we make available to the community, but the ‘souls’ we serve.’”
‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Esphesians 2:10