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Thrift store lends a hand
It has been around for 40 years, benefiting one organization or another.
But now the Willows Community Thrift Store is its own entity directly providing donations to groups in Glenn and Butte counties.
Last month it handed out $23,200 to eight nonprofits, according to Thrift Store President Marilyn Baker.
Baker said the awards ranged from $200 to $8,000 based on requests her board deemed worthy.
The $8,000 donation want to Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), a program of Northern Valley Catholic Social Services and encompasses both Glenn and Butte counties.
This organization helps foster children, Baker said, including 165 in Glenn County.
Another $5,000 went to the Glenn County Senior Nutrition Program's Willows home delivery program that takes meals to home-bound senior citizens.
The store group also provided $5,000 to the Willows Recreation Department for the city's swimming pool and another $2,000 to Willows Christian Church's food kitchen.
The Willows Food Bank received $2,000 as well while the Westside Domestic Violence Shelter received $500 as did the Torres Shelter in Chico that serves homeless Glenn County residents along with those in Butte County.
Finally, $200 went to the Willows Monday Afternoon Club, so it could pay for a thermal imaging camera donated to the Willows Fire Department.
Baker said she has served as president of the thrift store since her retirement in 2004.
But she began volunteering at the store 40 years ago when it funded the Butte-Glenn Family Services Association that paid for counseling services.
That association went defunct in the 1990s and the store was taken over by the Butte-Glenn United Way Chapter in 1994 to 2011.
Baker added the Butte-Glenn United Way group disbanded last year, so the thrift store board applied for its own nonproft status as the Willows Community Thrift Store.
These are the first donations it has made under the new title, she said.
The store is open 12:30 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday at 239 West Sycamore St.
It sells donated used clothing, toys, knick knacks, books, holiday decorations, kitchenware and other goods.
Run totally by volunteers, the store has many retired workers -some even in their 80s, Baker said.
Lines of customers often can be found waiting for the store to open in the afternoon as bargain hunters search for a variety of treasures priced from 25 cents on up.
Volunteers Eldora Cooper and Joan Bartalini sorted clothes in the back room of the store on Monday.
"It takes up our time," Cooper said. "There are a lot of things we do, and we have a lot of friends here."
Bartalini said while the work is tiring, volunteers socialize which makes the time go faster.
Most are in their 70s or 80s, Bartalini said, which explains why it is tiring.
However, many have been doing it for years, the women said, for something to do and to follow in the footsteps of relatives who did it before them.
As for the causes, "We all had a voice into it," Bartalini said. "We all voted on it."
Baker said the store's board has close to 30 members but the numbers fluctuate.
Applications from community groups are accepted year-round, Baker said, but no timetable has been set for when the next round of money will be dispersed.
For more information, call 934-2238.