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Lucille Lewis has been volunteering every Monday for nearly 10 years at Sheltered Treasures Thrift Store in Calabash.
The Little River, S.C., resident sorts clothes, making sure each item looks fresh, tags them and places them on a rack in the spacious shop. She purges the racks of clothes that have been around too long and helps customers find what they’re looking for.
Because she enjoys what she’s doing, Lewis actually looks forward to Monday mornings. Her volunteer work at the shop allows her to spend time with her friends, get to know new people and help out a cause—all proceeds from the county’s three Sheltered Treasures shops benefit Providence Home, the only temporary emergency teen shelter in Brunswick County.
Shelter manager Angie Chestnut said without Lewis and the other 12-17 volunteers, the store would not be able to operate, and Lewis’ good attitude makes her a joy to work with.
“Having her here is a pleasure,” Chestnut said.
Lewis can often be found wearing clothes she bought at the shop—bargains for her and advertisement for the store.
She also tells her friends to get involved and volunteer. As a retired administrative worker with the state of Virginia, Lewis likes having somewhere to go and duties to perform, while also interacting with the public and her fellow volunteers.
“I tell my friends about it. Getting myself out keeps me active,” Lewis said.
Sheltered Treasures has three locations in Brunswick County—Sunset Beach, Calabash and Southport. The stores are open from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily, and donations are welcome during those hours.
Chestnut said the Calabash store could always use volunteers.
“It would help if they have knowledge of the better name clothes and shoes,” she said.
But many of the volunteers do it for the sole purpose of helping Providence Home.
The home provides counseling and support for troubled youth ages 10-17, with the goal of reuniting them with their families.
Other local charities have thrift stores throughout the county as well. The Brunswick County Literacy Council and Brunswick Family Assistance split the proceeds from Family Thrift in Shallotte.
Hope Harbor Home, the county’s domestic violence shelter, has several benefit thrift stores, including ones in the Holden Beach area, Leland, Oak Island and Bolivia. Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity has to resale stores, while Calabash EMS has its own thrift store in downtown Calabash.
Communities in Schools of Brunswick County recently opened two new stores in Southport and Sunset Beach.
CIS Thrift Store Operations Director Sherry Ollis said the newest store, the Sunset Beach location, behind Food Lion, is now in need of a number of volunteers—basically people who don’t mind working hard and like to spread the word about CIS.
“If they have retail background, that’s always a plus, but we have a pretty good training program,” Ollis said this week. “We work with the volunteers when they come in.”
Like the other thrift stores, CIS shops are in need of people to take donations, sort and hang clothes and work with customers.
“You have to have that personality that greets people, makes them feel comfortable. It’s not an easy thing. It’s hard work to sort the clothes and get the merchandise on the floor.”
Volunteers will also receive an education about CIS programs such as Adopt-a-School, after-school, 21st Century Learning Centers, Family Literacy and more.
Ollis said she and the other thrift store managers work with volunteers’ schedules to be flexible.
“I like to do four-hour shifts, but some prefer to be here all day one day week. That’s fine. Some prefer one Saturday per month or two days per month. I work with people.
I just appreciate that they’re able to volunteer.”
Brunswick County Volunteer Center Director Jayne Mathews has a complete list of all 13 charity thrift stores in the county along with contact information for each.
Mathews said this week the thrift stores provide convenient volunteering opportunities for people in all areas of Brunswick County.
“It’s probably the only [volunteer opportunity] besides schools where there’s going to be one close to you no matter where you live,” she said.
For more information about volunteering with local thrift stores, call Mathews at 253-2574.