Thrift and Gift Shop to celebrate 43 years of quilts and friendship

Published 12:19 pm Sunday, September 6, 2015

ORANGE – A shop run by volunteers will celebrate 43 years of helping seniors supplement their income and friendships.

Thrift and Gift Shop, 350 37th Street in Orange, will honor the anniversary by opening 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12.

A group of senior citizens organized the group as a non-profit in 1973 as a way to give seniors a way to supplement their incomes and preserve crafts that have long been a part of American households such as quilting, knitting, crocheting, sewing, woodworking, painting and jewelry making.

A lesser-known objective when they originally organized was to foster harmony between the races in Orange.

Quilters at the shop meet each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a quilting bee. The quilts they work on generally are ones brought in by other quilters to have hand quilted. They also make two a year for raffling off to help support the shop as well as donate the funds charged for quilting.

Mary Holland, secretary, has been with the shop as a volunteer and vendor for 14 years.

“I enjoy the many people I meet,” Holland said. “I never sold retail before coming here, so I really enjoy that. When I am sitting at home wondering what to do next, I come down here. There is always someone here.”

The quilters welcome anyone who wishes to learn how to quilt to join them to practice.

The store has many unique gift items available including dressed bears, vintage jewelry, collectable dolls and antique glassware.

“I use to measure fabric, but I do quilting now,” Janice Simmons, volunteer and former president. “I did not think I was good enough to quilt [with the quilters]. Now we laugh, cut-up, solve the world’s problems and are a shoulder to lean on for each other.”

Simmons said she tried to get her husband to quilt but it was not for him.

“I will stick to my kitchen duties,” Richard Simmons said.

The shop has proven quite successful through the years and has been supported by an appreciative community.

The shop was originally located in downtown Orange. The first location is now the parking lot for the Lutcher Theater. The second home was also on 5th Street in an older building that deteriorated over the years, forcing the store to look for a new location after 30 years.

Pat and Glenn Putnam, Velma Geter, Iris Allen and Inez Hubbard were among the early organizers of the shop. At one time, they also cooked and served a noon meal, mostly for businessmen, when the establishment was located on 5th Street.

Many felt the closing of the location was the end for the establishment. Pat Putnam was determined to keep the doors open.

Putnam found space in the old Salk School building after the property was purchased by PLAN, another organization she supported. The wing, which houses the store, was remolded with the help of volunteers and a grand opening was held in September of 2003.

Kay Nuss, office manager, has volunteered at the shop since the second week the shop moved to the current location.

“Each person has special talents,” Nuss said.

In Putnam’s honor, the store continues to donate clothes to ministries, such as Leap of Faith Ministries in Mauriceville. Leap of Faith Ministries gathers scriptures and clothes from several locations including Thrift and Gift and delivers them to areas in need such as Mexico and flooded areas of Mississippi.

The shop has also given support to the organization of Heritage Center and Putnam Place.

While there is not an age requirement for volunteering at the shop, one must be 55 or older in order to become a vendor. Guidelines and requirements are available by request at the register.

Thrift and Gift Shop is open 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tues. – Fri. Clothing, linen, material, and craft supplies and miscellaneous items are still accepted as donations.