If you’ve ever shopped at Gift & Thrift, we know for an absolute fact that you have encountered one of our wonderful volunteers. What’s that you say? You didn’t really interact with anyone while you were shopping? Well, truth be told, you didn’t have to talk to anyone to interact with a volunteer. Their presence is all through our store. Come, take a quick stroll through our aisles and we’ll ‘show’ you what we mean.

Let’s go in through the BookSavers entrance … Wow! Look at all those books! I like fiction…come see the selection! What’s that you say? So many choices? Well, you can thank Diane who volunteers to help those fiction shelves full! … and that’s not made up! She is as real as they come and we’re thankful for her and the other volunteers who put out the pages for us to turn!

Let’s go down the right side out of books … What’s that you say? You need a birthday card for your sister? Well then, let’s loop around and take a look at the greeting cards before we move on. You know, you can thank Margaret for this. She volunteers to make sure our greeting cards are put out and organized! Don’t they look great?!

Okay, let’s head this way and we’ll pass by … What’s that? You need a stapler and some binders for your office? Well, thanks to Bobbi who volunteers with office processing, you have plenty of options here in the Office/School department. You never know what treasure you’ll find around here … I like to come here for pens and tablets, myself.

Hey, look over there in clothing…it’s Twilla, Edie and Kathy! They came in to volunteer and organize the clothes. We know that being able to shop by color and size makes finding the perfect outfits so much easier! Thanks to the volunteers, we’re able to look good, quick! It’s a good thing too, because there’s so much store left to shop!

Let’s go over here to the Seasonal Shop, but be careful, you never know what Audrey, Eleanor, Mickey and the rest of the gang might put out that you never knew you needed! These ladies volunteer to make not just every Season better and brighter, but every day as well. I mean really…Just look at this little cat in this pumpkin! I’m certain they put this out here just to make us smile!

Ah, here we are in Housewares … glasses and dishes and frames, oh my! Okay, so you can’t see them, but through those doors there, there’s a whole other ‘world’ where the magic happens! I’ll bet right now, Jan, Bev, Grace and the others are back there sorting, washing and getting things ready to bring out here to the store. If you could see all the stuff back there, you would know it takes a village of volunteers to keep our ship afloat … and we are so thankful for our crew!

Over there is Elaine, volunteering in linens. Go ahead and wave or smile, but whatever you do, do not suggest a pillow fight! What’s that you ask? Do we sell fabric? We sure do, but we couldn’t keep up with it without Carolyn’s knowledge and willingness to volunteer! Come to think of it, her sister Marilyn volunteers with us as well, but she is in the back helping in our Thriftique department. Our Store really is family friendly!

Now, if you buy anything from Electronics while you’re here, chances are Abe or Darrell, maybe Dana or Gerald got it ready for you buy. It takes quite the team to test all the electronic items that come through our donation dock … and we are thankful for those volunteers who light up our days!

Well look! Here here comes Jim, Chris, and Betty, some of our volunteer cashiers! That must mean it’s getting close to 11:00am…our opening hour! We didn’t even make it to toys to show you Beth’s volunteer play…errr, um…work. (HeHe!) Nor did we make it to Miscellaneous Furniture to show you the skills that Donna, Dee and Harold volunteer! We simply do not have enough hours in the day to mention all of our wonderful volunteers or to tell you everything they do to help our store!

The truth is, while we truly do value our staff and their knowledge and dedication to what we do, we know it’s our volunteers who fill in the gaps and make the volume of what we do possible. The more volunteer help we have, the more we can help others; and that’s what we try to do here at Gift & Thrift.
So, thank you for strolling through the store and meeting just a few of our volunteers. We want to take this opportunity to express our gratefulness to these behind the scenes folks who pitch in to help out of the goodness of their hearts. To say we appreciate them is the understatement of the year!

Oh, and for the record, if you saw a department in the store that made you think, “I would enjoy helping with stuff like this”, drop us a line at volunteer@giftandthrift.org … we would like the opportunity to appreciate you as well!

Let’s face it, there is a lot to get done in every-day life, but come December? Come Christmas? Everyone goes into task overload! There is always something we need to accomplish to be prepared for the Holiday Season. Not only that, but there is always something we planned to do at the end of last Christmas, to make the next Christmas easier! Perhaps we planned to get a new tree, or replace some outside decorations. Maybe we planned to buy our Christmas cards so we could address them early, or get new Christmas plates for that party we host every year. Yes, we have the greatest resolve when we’re stressed out in the season, but when the season is over and everything calms down… well, the road to a calmer Holiday Season is paved with good intentions.

You might wonder, what is one to do? Celebrate twice, of course! That’s right! We’re making it easier to alleviate the stress of December, by celebrating Christmas in July! All year long we set back Christmas items in our warehouse to Gift & Thrift (see what we did there?) when The Holiday Season begins. This year however, we decided to give our valued customers a pre-season opportunity! … and not only that, but the opportunity is at 50% off! Yes, it’s true!  Our Christmas merchandise including Trees, tree stands, pillows, linens, housewares, ornaments, books … and more… will be available starting July 1st, at half its normal price.

Can you imagine? Getting your Christmas items now so that come December, all you have to do is put them out and up? No swimming in the sea of humanity at the big ‘box stores’, trying to dodge the crowds…just to buy what everyone else is buying. No rushing around to gather all the things you need instead of spending quality time with family and friends! That’s right! With Christmas in July, we get to take back and really enjoy Christmas in December!

So, join us this July for our mid-year Christmas celebration! Come find everything you need to decorate and dazzle, shimmer and smile, and rest and relax come December! You know, at our store we like to say, “Where every purchase is a gift to the world”. This July however, it could be said, “Where every Christmas purchase is a Joy to the World … and your peace of mind!

P.S. We’ve heard rumors that the “Gift & Thrift Carolers” just might randomly be “Dashing through the store…”

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?