The love you don't see
Our little shop exists because volunteers choose to love others. You may often see the smiling faces of our cashiers, day in and day out. They are wonderful people with a special gift, but you may not know all that goes on behind the scenes. Without the love of people, which leads to volunteering to help, we would not be able to do what we do so well.
While we open at noon, our volunteers start much earlier. We start our day resetting the showroom from the chaos of the day before. There are clothes to be picked up off the floor, missing shoes to be found, discarded hangers to collect, and straightening of the shelves and racks. While this is going on, we are also bringing out the houseware items that were processed the day before to restock the empty spaces. We also bring out all of the clothing that was tagged the day before.
Because today is the day after a holiday, we are pulling all of the left over items from yesterday’s holiday, and are starting to bring out the stuff we have saved over the whole year for Christmas. Some space is reallocated, and love makes it all look good. It is also our coat give away season. Someone will go down to the basement and grab some of our coats that are staged and physically carry them upstairs. This is a tough task as coats are heavy, and we go through them quickly. All year long, we have been collecting, sorting, hanging and storing coats for our giveaway. Even in the hot days of July someone is working to keep you warm in the winter.
After a quick break for a cookie, and a cup of coffee, our volunteers switch gears. Some will become clothing taggers, checking the sizes and condition of every article of $1.00 clothing we put out. Some become sorters, grabbing donations that were recently given, cleaning , sorting, and moving them to where they will be worked on. Others will start working on shoes, holiday items, and folding clothes and packing them away for later. There are electronics to be tested, toys to be reunited with missing pieces, and Barbie doll hair to comb.
Around this time we are getting close to opening for the day. Our cashiers arrive and start cleaning and sanitizing customer areas. Also our support services gentleman usually start to arrive. Our guys move stuff. They bring boxes of clothing up to the tagging room, move boxes of clothing down from the sorting room, bring up appropriate holiday items, while storing off season stuff. They help move the recycling to its appropriate area, and collect the trash and discard items to take to the dumpster. They spend some time trying to fix or repair the many broken or incomplete things that we are given. They test our electronics and other items.
Many of our volunteers take "homework" home. A few boxes of clothes, a bin of toys, a load of baby socks, so that they can relax in their favorite chair with family and still keeps their hands busy. This is love. Love for people they don't get to see. There is quite a bit more that goes on behind the scenes than people realize. It is done because of love. We do not exist without a group of 35-40 people who give over a thousand hours of free service each month to bring you $1.00 clothes, low price kitchen item, toys and sporting goods galore, giving away thousands of coats each year, all while enabling us to write checks to homeless shelters, food pantries and feeding programs all over northwest Indiana.
Our volunteers come in all types. We have a few students, some individuals with barriers to traditional employment that want to be useful in society. We have some stay at home moms, squeezing in volunteering between drop offs, pickups, and sporting events. We have some recently retired individuals, some who have been retired for a long time. Some with disabilities, most with arthritis, some veterans, some who walk with canes and walkers, and some who like to run up sand dunes in their spare time. It takes all kinds of people showing God's love every day to keep us going. We love helping you help others. We can always use more help. We could always use more help. As times change we are seeing more people, both customers and donors daily. We specifically could use an able bodied person who loves to vacuum a few times a week.