Jamie and Russell Clay arrived in Conway only to discover the cupboard was bare.

They are the new Salvation Army officers, recently moved from Broken Arrow, Okla., where they worked three years building a successful program.

In Conway, feeding hungry folks was the first, most urgent need.

Lt. Jamie Clay has a sales and marketing background, so she had the idea to combine the work at the Thrift Store at 807 Court St., with filling the pantry shelves.

Come and shop at the store, save money, yes. Bring a can of food, get a discount, save more money, feed people.

It was a great idea, and the pantry shelves began to fill.

But it’s a constant challenge, they say.

The Army receives help from the Rice Depot, but it’s the hearts that open to share that keep the food pantry working, Lt. Russell Clay said.

Peanut butter and canned items high in protein such as tuna, chicken, beans, beef stew and vegetables, canned and dried fruit, baby food and formula, bags of beans and rice are welcome donations. They can be dropped off at the Corps headquarters at 950 Carson Cove off Prince Street.

This week, through Saturday, there’s a back-to-school sale at the Thrift Store.

"We’ve worked hard to revamp the store, repainting, redesigning the layout and keeping it tidy and clean," Jamie Clay said. "This promotion is the first of many."

They are offering a 50 percent discount throughout the store for college students who are asked to show a current college photo ID and register to receive the discount.

This is one way for the Corps to reach out to students, providing a ministry for those away from their homes and their church homes, the Clays said.

For students moving into dorms this week and next, it will be a great bargain for those extra dorm-room needs, like furniture, books and accessories, Jamie Clay said.

The store’s motto is "Buy someone a second chance. By shopping here, you’re rehabilitating lives." "Doing the Most Good" is the Salvation Army’s national slogan.

Funds raised in Conway and Faulkner County and surrounding counties — Cleburn, Perry and Van Buren — stay with the Conway Corps for work in this area.

"We will be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us," Russell Clay said.

(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at becky.harris@thecabin.net and 505-1234.)