Ministry hidden within St. Augustine store

Store 1lgBy Brianna Kurzynowski |

While Philanthropy is right at home with the rest of downtown St. Augustine’s unique and tourist-driven shops, it does have one major difference: 10 percent of every sale goes to charity. This idea follows founder and owner, Christina Martin’s philosophy of retail which stems from her motto: “I can do all things through Christ.”

Martin always wanted to do a ministry and found the perfect way through Philanthropy.

Philanthropy targets the “modern day woman with a bohemian romantic style,” Martin said.

Through every sale made at the store, 10 percent goes to charity, while sales made online give 100 percent to charity. “The first check we write goes to charity,” she said.

Philanthropy Ministries, the company’s own non-profit organization, started in 2012. The company works alongside several different charities including their very own non-governmental organization in Cape Town, South Africa.

“We focus heavily on the homeless,” Martin said. Other charities they work with include LambsCroft, Hands and feet in Haiti, Hard Bargain Association, Chosen for Life and Hope Children’s Home.

Philanthropy is a “private license company that runs like a franchise. We are a community of people who come together” for a common cause, she said. Martin does all the buying for the company herself.

Prayer Wall 1With a background in interior architectural design, Martin, along with her husband, have three other businesses including a pedicab service, a garden store and a design company.

Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., she chose to bring Philanthropy to St. Augustine because of her memories of family vacations she took as a child. There are three other store locations in Franklin, Tenn., Girardeau, Mo., and Athens, Ga. The different locations get to decide what charities from their community that they donates the profits to.

St. Augustine’s community embraced Philanthropy right away. “I receive emails from tourist who have been changed” by the experience they had when they visited the store, she said.

Martin wants everyone who walks through the doors of Philanthropy to feel welcomed. She wants to build a connection with locals and tourist alike. “It is not about a sale to us,” she said.

Courtney Fisher and Kierra Wilson, both students from Flagler College, first discovered the store during the city’s 450th Celebration.

“I thought it had a great concept and message as a business. Everyone was really friendly,” Fisher said.

Wilson agreed: “I thought it was a really inspirational store and moving in a way with the prayer wall,” she said.

In the middle of the store there is a wall filled with luggage tags that is known as the Prayer Wall. Here, customers are given the option to take or leave a prayer. Those who visit the store can fill out one of the tags with a prayer and others can come in take the prayer home with them to pray for the person in need. “To see the prayer tags falling off the wall is really amazing,” Martin said.

“We are not just something you can come and see. You have to come and feel us,” she said.

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