Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Multi-Purpose Center

I spent Friday volunteering at the Multi-purpose Center. One of the part-time ladies is going to be quitting soon and Anne wanted me to learn how things go so I can fill in sometimes. It went pretty well. The main problem was trying to remember what different categories of things cost in the re-sale shop. The other lady made me a list, bless her heart, that I could refer to and that really helped. There were also several donations that came in that day that I sorted through and put on the shelves. That part of the job is fun. You never know what you'll find when you open a bag or box. Volunteers can take home something for free in return for working and I found a really nice purse in one of the boxes so it now has a new home. (Jim surprised me by not making any comments about me not needing another bag. Thanks honey!)

One of the problems facing a small shop like this is people who want to spend only a couple of dollars and pay for it using a twenty dollar bill or larger. The shop just doesn't keep that much change on hand. An even bigger problem is donors who use the shop to get rid of things they should have thrown away. Signs are posted on the door and inside that donations should be good enough to give to your family or friends - not stained, dirty, ripped, or worn out. Plastic dishes come in that have been blistered in the microwave and/or stained. Clothes come in, (including underwear), that are stained or maybe have paint on them, or they're torn. The Center doesn't have the facilities, money, or time to wash and dry or repair clothes. Some things immediately get thrown away but most damaged clothes are bagged and sold to a company that recycles them. Other donated things are sometimes broken or have missing parts. People will come after hours and leave bags and things just sitting outside that have to be gone through and disposed of. The Center has to pay for garbage pickup just like everyone else and this just adds to it.

The Center also sells small appliances like coffee pots, housewares, bedding, figurines, books, puzzles, toys, and though they don't have room to sell them, they take info from people who have larger things like furniture to give away. Last year I started several spider plants and donated them to the Center to resell. local gardeners are very generous and will bring their excess produce or a farmer will donate beef or pork or a hunter will donate a deer to the food pantry.

The shoppers are a varied bunch of people. One local man who sells antiques and ships them all over came in to buy some used blankets to wrap them in. Others were looking for clothes for their fast-growing children or grandchildren or just for themselves. Working men came looking for used clothes that they can wear and not have to worry about ruining. Maybe someone needed a glass carafe for a coffee maker or a frame for a picture. You never know what you'll find at the Center. A big rush came right before we were about to close at 4:30 and we actually had to hurry a couple of people to get them checked out so we could leave. (Hey, it was Friday night, ya know!) The Center is open M-F, 8 - 4:30 so that gives people plenty of time to shop, sign up for heating help, WIC, get emergency food help, or sometimes just a sympathetic ear.

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