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CALABASH—Edith Correll has been a fixture at the Calabash EMS Thrift Shop for close to a quarter of a century.
“She’s the longest-serving volunteer,” part-time shop employee Loretta Todd said as Correll showed Todd another needlepoint she’d recently made, this one for a granddaughter who’s getting married this month.
Todd said she’d only been working at the shop for seven years.
“She’s catching up to me,” Correll said, chuckling.
Correll was with the shop back when it was inside a rickety old house next door to EMS headquarters. She was there when “they took down the old house and we came here,” to the shop’s current site in a strip center between the Lowcountry Stores complex and Tropical Adventure Mini Golf.
To this day, she’s still there, often coming in during her “off time” to neatly fold linens and perform other duties at the shop that exists to support the Calabash EMS. The shop depends solely on donations—of clothes, household goods, furniture and other items—to sell and raise money for the EMS.
Correll looks and acts younger than her 88 years as she zips around the shop in her Keds on a recent morning.
“It’s just my working shoes,” Correll says, smiling. “I need comfortable shoes to keep going.”
Correll says she’s “just grateful for every year, believe me.”
She’s also grateful to help the EMS, which has returned the favor by rushing to aid her in the past.
“Two or three times they’ve taken me,” she said of the occasions when EMS took her to the hospital. That includes this past June when Correll had a headache and “my guys took me.”
“Once I fainted here, and they came and took me to the hospital,” she added.
Correll has worked at the shop since she and her late husband, Robert, retired here in the mid 1980s from Long Island, N.Y.
In Long Island, Edith worked in a hospital purchasing department. Robert was vice president of the old Franklin National Bank on Long Island. Between them they have seven children.
As for younger generations, “I counted, and I think I have about 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren,” Edith said.
Edith said they had previously retired to Asheville because her mother lived there. But she and Robert had friends here at the beach. They drove through the area one day and decided it was nice to be at the coast. In Asheville, their nearest neighbor lived three-quarters of a mile away.
“You need people, and you need things to do,” Correll said. “That’s why we got involved with the shop, because it was something to do. I’m just grateful I can do what I can do. It’s all for a good cause.”
Prior to his death in 1995, Robert served on the EMS board.
Shop manager Lois Little describes Correll as devoted and a good, hard worker.
“She’s been with the board for eons,” Little said, describing the shop as the “lifeblood” of the EMS, which has long benefited from Correll’s contributions as well as a team of about 12 or 13 shop volunteers. The shop also has four part-time employees.
“It seems like when [volunteers] come, they don’t leave,” Little said. “They’re all hard workers, I tell you. They’re a wonderful crew.”
When Correll isn’t busy at the shop, she’s assisting with senior lunches at her church, Calabash Presbyterian, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We help serve and clean up,” she said of herself and two friends, Priscilla Sweet and Lucy Pepler, who also help with the lunches.
Correll also takes part in senior chair exercise class on Mondays at the church.
In September, Calabash EMS paid tribute to Correll by awarding her a plaque designating her as godmother of the “Pride of Calabash” ambulance.
If you see the department’s ambulance No. 2974 driving down the road, “that’s my godchild passing by,” Correll said.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.