Immigrants seek ‘citizenship, job opportunities and acceptance’ at Zion World Wide Mission thrift store

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – Growth continues in the Upstate. The latest statistics from the American Immigration Council show that one in 20 South Carolina residents is an immigrant. And immigrants play an important role in the growth of the state. But becoming a naturalized citizen is a transition that takes time. And a new thrift store does more than sell items.

Bianca Amaro swears by Zion World Mission thrift store prices.

“Sure, it’s a good thing. Good prices,” he said.

And in less than a week, she made two trips, bringing a friend to sift through health and wellness products and even pet items.

“I plan to come back and recommend my friends as well,” she said.

But diversity for immigrants, low-income, non-income earners and the general public goes beyond the shelves. Just walk through the front door and look to your right.

“What I was most looking for (when moving to South Carolina) was friendship, job opportunities and acceptance,” said Helena Arrieta, career counselor and manager of the Zion World Wide Mission Thrift Store.

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Arita moved to Upstate from Lebanon two years ago, and says today 90 percent of the people who walk through those doors to help are immigrants.

“You want to get to a point where America feels like home,” he said.

And he continues to be involved in the citizenship corner of Zion’s Job Connection and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), both of which are in the store management department.

“Someone is with them, they’re not alone,” Arita said.

Rev. Delinks Meralos, regional director of Zion World Mission Inc., which serves 1,000 families a month outside of its 20,000-square-foot operations area and site, Zion’s largest store and packaging service office in South Carolina.

“Where we sit right now, it’s relentless,” Reverend Meralos said. We have a network of 360 different companies in the United States that support our work.

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Reverend Meralos says the center is strategically located in a part of the county that provides easy access to immigrant families, and the site plays a role that is no accident.

We give people hope. “They can rent their apartment, they can buy a house one day.” Pastor Meralos said. And that’s the American dream, and they deserve it if they’re here. Everyone deserves it.”

Nothing sold in the thrift store is used. Everything is brand new at a reduced rate and all sales benefit from Zion’s long list of services.

“They don’t have a voice, they’re struggling, but they exist,” Reverend Meralos said.

He talks about the increasing number of immigrants that Zion is helping. But Pastor Meralos adds that the area offered to foreign companies should be more in tune with the needs of everyday foreigners.

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From corporations, ministries, churches, non-profits, retailers and individuals – I know we can do more. And we need to do more.”

In addition to helping people obtain U.S. citizenship, find jobs and help with natural disasters, more immigrants are being affected by the rising cost of living, Rev. Meralos says.

He said: “To give, you must have, if you don’t have, you can’t give.”

Pastor Meralos says the doors are open as long as needed, but don’t expect him or his team to slow down in 2023.

“How do we keep this beautiful city safe? Is this beautiful community strong and healthy? Pastor Meralos said. “without considering.”

For more information or to support the efforts of Zion World Mission Thrift Store located at 3229 West Blue Ridge Drive, Greenville, SC visit:


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