Meet Your Merchant: Thrift shop volunteers find purpose in giving back
July 23, 2014
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Linda Robins, volunteer overseer at the Presbyterian Women's Thrift Shop, describes the donations from community members as "relentless."
After all, it isn't uncommon for the shop to receive 40 bags of clothing, sports gear, books and home goods before noon.
Despite the time-consuming work of checking clothing for quality, and pricing every item that comes in, the thrift shop volunteers enjoy the camaraderie found in working together.
"It's very bonding," Robins said. "It's a good place to find a friend if you need one."
“(Volunteering) keeps me active. I can’t imagine my life without it.”
Presbyterian Women’s Thrift Shop
Presbyterian Women's Thrift Shop began in Incline Village 48 years ago and has always been run by volunteers.
Robins, a shop volunteer for eight years, said giving back has always been a part of her life.
"It keeps me active," she said. "I can't imagine my life without it. I get more from it than I give and I think that's why our volunteers stay so long."
Grace Deters, a volunteer in her mid-80s, has been working regularly at the shop for 10 years.
Deters said she finds great clothes and toys for her grandchildren and enjoys doing work where it's needed.
"I like doing something for others instead of just for myself at home," she said.
As the women decide on pricing and sort through bags of another man's trash, they have built friendships over the years that they treasure.
"We have a broad range of wonderful, wonderful people," Robins said.
It took the strong persuasion of Shirley Degenkolb to get her longtime friend, Marilyn Henry, in the door — the volunteer admits she wasn't compelled to come in on her own accord.
"But when my friend of 55 years asks me to do something, I do it," Henry said with a laugh.
The volunteer admits to showing up and wondering what took her so long to become a part of the team.
"The community of all of the women is great," she said.
At the Presbyterian Women's Thrift Shop, books and handbags, clothes, kitchen supplies, recreation equipment and furniture are donated and resold.
The volunteers said many designer bags come through the shop as well as high-end ski equipment and practically new sofas.
Robins said most of the volunteers know their customers who frequent the shop looking for something in particular, or just seek out a good deal.
"There's no Macy's, you come in here and it's the best bargain you'll find," she said. "We are ruined for shopping anywhere else."
In addition to donating proceeds, Presbyterian Women's Thrift Shop also donates items to various local organizations.
Before hitting the shelves, items such as toiletries go to Project MANA and Tahoe SAFE Alliance; old glasses to the North Tahoe Lions Club; and craft supplies and old games to Sierra Senior Services.
Through all of the items that come through the shop, Robins said the volunteers find a use for as many things as they can.
"We are real green," she said. "We recycle, recycle, recycle."
Presbyterian Women's Thrift Shop is proud of last year's donation of $233,215 to over 20 charities, including Casa de Vida, Incline High School Baccalaureate, Deacons Fund and Helping Hands of Mexico.
The friendship and satisfaction in giving back repay the volunteers at Presbyterian Women's Thrift Shop in a way very different than a paycheck.
"You can't play all of the time," Robins said. "You have to give back for all of the blessings that you have."
The shop is open and receives donations 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. six days per week.
Jenny Luna is a local freelance reporter for the Bonanza newspaper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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