A booklet celebrating 15 years of Gift & Thrift lists Dorothy Kreider’s notes about eight reasons given for having an MCC Thrift Store. Among them are “Recognizing the Importance of Small Things”. Over the last month, as I have been giving tours to new volunteers, many of whom are not familiar with MCC’s mission, I find myself talking about the importance of every small act within the operation of Gift & Thrift.

As much as we might wish that we could blink and clear the warehouse of items waiting to be processed, we all know that isn’t how life works (We receive a LOT of donations!). What I have come to embrace in time I have been with Gift & Thrift is that every item counts. First, it was treasured by someone before it made its way here. It may have been a family heirloom. It might have been in a Christmas stocking or a birthday gift bag, it might have been found on the beach, or created from wondrous imagination. Every item here has been gifted to us to offer a new life, to save from the landfill, to bring someone else joy, and sometimes, to be recycled.

The process of moving items from the donation dock, into departments, and onto the sales floor takes a lot of hands, and every step along the way is necessary and important. Every item wiped down, every tag applied, every book tested, every bag filled with crayons matters and allows us to continue our mission. There is no small task completed that a team member somewhere isn’t deeply grateful for.

I like to think that we honor each donation in some way as it passes through the various hands that touch it. We give thanks that someone cared enough to bring it to us, that it may support our mission of caring presence, community, and stewardship to the environment. Many of the items that we are not able to sell are given to other local charities that support homeless, refugees, and children in non-profit daycare in our city. (Do you know an organization we might be able to help? Please reach out to us and let us know!)

During this time of Covid, many of our volunteers are doing things from home. Perhaps they are testing cameras or sewing machines, maybe they’re putting clothes on Barbies, or checking that games and puzzles have all their pieces. Do you have an interest, talent, or skill and a little bit of time to give? We’d love to talk to you about volunteer opportunities.

Our operation looks very different than a year ago, but I am privileged to witness small acts of friendship, kindness, and grace among staff, volunteers, and shoppers every day.

One of our goals here at Gift & Thrift is to keep as much as possible out of the landfill. We do our best to rescue and recycle items big and small. Many of the items that are donated are like new, crisp, shiny, and bright. These things are easy to find homes for.

But we also get to be the Waystation for Misfit Toys, Dog-Eared Books, and chipped figurines. Items less than perfect, yet still seeking a new life come our way every day. Last week, I came across an aerobics Barbie whose hip was broken. She was literally broken in two. The whole day, she hung out on the table while I sorted and bagged other items. At the end of the day, I decided I’d place her in a bag for $1 as Broken Hip Barbie. When I looked for her the following afternoon, someone had already bought her!

Part of what is so exciting and interesting about working in Thrift is that a lot of what we sell can be the wellspring of someone’s Imagination. The broken globe becomes a lamp, the boring sun hat becomes a little girl’s tea party floral hat of whimsy, plastic bags become a braided rug, random nuts, bolts and hardware become a fanciful critter, and Broken Hip Barbie becomes who knows what?

It’s about giving things a chance, allowing them their time on the sales floor to find the creative person who sees that new life within the things. You or I may not see the value in it, but we can pause and believe that someone will. We can rescue it from the landfill this time around and rejoice in the wonder of what it may become.

We have an Upcycle department which has sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff that literally was destined for the dumpster. Everyone who works, volunteers, or shops at Gift & Thrift has certainly seen the potential in some strange or broken item and paused to wonder what might become of that donation with the help of another’s imagination.

We get to be better stewards of our environment, and those small incremental sales of Broken Hipped Barbies allow us to support our Team, our Community, and the mission of MCC.

What random finds at Gift & Thrift have made your heart leap with excitement?