Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Ladies of Charity Greater Good Thrift Store is a hub of activity as volunteers mark down clothing, housewares and jewelry to 25 cents each for the store’s big Sept. 6-7 sale.
Through profits made in the store, volunteers present food, clothing, baby items and accessories to those in need throughout the Chattanooga area.
“The purpose of the store is to fund our social services,” said Ladies of Charity Greater Good Thrift Store Executive Director Jan Clark. “Our mission is to serve the poor and the store helps us complete that mission.”
Helping the store complete that mission is a hardworking group of Chattanooga Retired Senior Volunteer Program members. The group is an outlet and outreach provided by Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors Center.
Brainerd resident Gene Blaes, a volunteer through RSVP, regularly works the cash register at the store. He retired in 1985 and began volunteering that year at the store’s original East Main Street location. The thrift store is now located on Rossville Boulevard.
Originally Blaes said he bought a wheelchair-accessible van to haul furniture donations and shoppers to the store. He ran the van from 1985-2005, when he switched to manning the front desk. Now, EZ Moving Company’s Pete Jones keeps the donations rolling in on his truck by picking up and delivering furniture to the store and to patrons’ homes. Jones said he enjoys helping keep the store stocked and unloads the items for volunteers to organize.
“This is an organization that does so much good,” Blaes said. “I wanted to help out. Everything that comes in goes back out again. When we have a good [profit] day here that means we can help more people. We feed and clothe people in need and help with utility bills. People in need of clothing can find a good deal here in the store.”
Normally the store’s selection of clothing costs 50 cents per piece.
In the store’s baby layette program RSVP volunteer Pat Wright makes baby baskets full of items for mothers in need of financial help with their newborns. Clothing is provided for babies up to age 12 months. Baby sheets, blankets, diapers, bottles, bibs, pacifiers and stuffed animals are also wrapped together in a layette basket for babies through the program.
“We have a sewing group at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church that makes baby blankets, diaper bags, sheets and baby clothes for the layettes,” said Wright. “We make handmade sweaters and caps. We are so blessed to have talent in our midst.”
She said the layette ministry always needs donations of infant diapers and bottles.
“We are here on this earth to help others,” said Wright. “I’ve been so blessed and I want to bless others.”
Next door to the layette ministry, RSVP volunteer Ellen Lennon, of East Ridge, works in the toys section in the back of the store.
“We test toys to see if they work,” she said. “If it doesn’t work then it goes in the free basket. We have ring tosses, dolls, costumes, dinosaur toys, balls, rollerblades, puzzles and blocks. It’s the element of surprise in every donated bag.”