Monday through Friday, Eleanor Kowalski and other volunteers give their time to help run the Shoreline/Lake Forest Park Senior Center Thrift Shop. Throughout three shifts from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., donations of clothes, linens and various trinkets are sorted through, organized, priced and stocked by hand.
“It’s a good place to come and learn,” said Kowalski, 90. “We have a new register that does the tax. Some people worry about working the register but if you can run a computer you can run this register.”
Those who volunteer can choose how they want to help and commit to as many shifts per week as their schedule permits.
Volunteer Jane Puckett spent her shift pricing items ranging from six yards of lace trim to stacks of video cassettes Oct. 29 in the shop’s inventory room. Behind her, items for Christmas sales were categorically grouped high on shelves.
“The counter over there” she said, pointing toward a closed closet, “is stuffed to the gunnels … you couldn’t get another toothpick in there.”
Thrift Shop visitors will see Christmas items replace the last few Halloween treats this week, according to Kowalski. And the new assortment of greeting cards priced from 40 cents and up is quickly becoming a customer favorite.
“We order (greeting cards) directly,” she said. “It seems so silly to spend so much money for a card and they get thrown away anyway.”
But no matter the season, one hundred percent of the shop’s profits – totaling $18,000 annually- goes toward financing the Senior Center.
“My favorite thing is raising money for the center,” Kowalski said. “It makes me happy to know we’re helping the center.”
As the thrift shop manager, she said she would like to see more people volunteer at the shop. All new volunteers must complete a training session and, while retail experience is a bonus, it is not required. Training for volunteer positions occurs on Mondays at the thrift shop, located at 18560 First Ave.N.E. Suite 1.