Mount Si Thrift Store helps seniors

Mount Si Senior Center Thrift Store volunteers Maggie Buglewicz, left, and Sharon Posey sort through donated items. All proceeds from the shop help fund programs for Valley seniors. - Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Mount Si Senior Center Thrift Store volunteers Maggie Buglewicz, left, and Sharon Posey sort through donated items. All proceeds from the shop help fund programs for Valley seniors.
— image credit: Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Modeling a gently used, shimmery yellow cardigan, volunteer Maggie Buglewicz gushed about the quality of items community patrons donate to the Mount Si Senior Center Thrift Store.

“It’s kind of like Christmas every day going through the bags. You never know what you’ll find,” she said, placing shirts from a fresh round of donations on a rack.

The thrift store puts new merchandise out every day, and keeps prices low so items move on and off the shelves of the shop’s two rooms quickly, she said.

“We don’t have the luxury of having a warehouse, so we want to turn it over. We want to keep things fresh,” said Buglewicz, who has gotten to know the store’s customers and donors, many of whom drop by several times a week.

By patronizing the thrift store, customers get inexpensive goods that are being put to good use rather than being sent to landfills.

“People coming in will say, why would I buy new Christmas lights when I can get them here?” Buglewicz said. “It fits into the recycling movement and makes people feel good.”

Donors to the store get the satisfaction of knowing that they’re supporting programs for some of the Valley’s most vulnerable residents. In her four years volunteering at the store, Buglewicz has seen it become a key source of funding for the senior center.

“Before, it was always a question of, where do we get the money to pay the electric bill, the heating bill? We want to add new programs, but where do we get the money?” she said.

Now the senior center uses profits from the volunteer-run store to fund programs like “Seniorcise” classes and wellness classes. Nutritious lunches are on offer every weekday for $3, and the center serves as a gathering place and second home for many.

In the down-turned economy, when government funding sources are in question, the thrift store income is more important than ever.

“Considering the federal, state and county budget cuts, and the ones that are certainly going to come up in the future, it’s all the more important that we support the senior center,” Buglewicz said. “The only thing that keeps it alive is the generosity of the community.”

Buglewicz hopes more donors, shoppers and volunteers will support the store.

The donations highest in demand are arts and crafts supplies, clothing and coats for all ages, small household appliances, knick-knacks and books. Sorters will sometimes set aside donations like tables and books that can directly benefit the senior center. Others are sold in the thrift store, with “every single penny” going to benefit Valley seniors, Buglewicz said.

Volunteers of all ages are also needed to help run the store. Some of the shop’s dozen volunteers work only a few hours a week, and every bit helps, Buglewicz said.

New to the area and a big fan of garage sales and secondhand shops, Buglewicz started volunteering at the shop as a way to get involved in the community and make new friends.

“It’s a very fun, social place,” she said.

The Thrift Store is located at 411 Main Ave. S., North Bend. For more information, call (425) 888-3434.

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