Johnson volunteers despite pain

Staff writer

Betty Johnson bent to pick up a pile of books Saturday, when a sharp pain ripped through her body.

“I just can’t lift things like I used to,” the 73-year-old said as she sat down on a nearby bench.

Johnson is one of the many volunteers over the age of 70 at St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary Shoppe. She started serving the community at the Marion thrift store in 2006 — and has loved every minute of it.

“I’m usually all over the place,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun working here. I get to help out the hospital and see a lot of people at the same time.”

When donations come in, Johnson makes a beeline for the bags with clothing in it.

After ripping open the bag, she begins to examine the quality of each garment, determining whether it is worthy to be sold. If it passes the inspection, she will hang or fold the clothing.

“I try to sort everything,” she said. “I look at the type of clothing. Then I look at the size and then put it with like colors.”

Walking around the store, Johnson greets each customer with a smile, knowing it can make someone’s day.

And Johnson had plenty of opportunities to do just that in the past seven years.

“Fridays are usually the busiest,” she said, gesturing to the crowd in the store.

“Everyone wants to see what we’ve got in. We put new things out every day. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun too.”

After hours of a constant stream of customers, Johnson says it is sometimes good to just sit down and price items.

“It’s peaceful,” she said. “You can just sit here and make sure the price tags stick on the items. It’s not hard work.”

Looking forward, Johnson said she still plans on being a integral volunteer with the Shoppe — and is especially excited to be set up in the store’s new location on East Main Street.

“It’s going to be a lot more space, which means we can sell a lot more stuff and more money for the hospital,” she said. “We’ll have a place to sort everything and we’ll have a place to store all the items. It’ll be wonderful compared to what we have now.”

But, she said, there is one thing that worries her: the process of moving.

“It’s going to be a lot of work,” she said.

“We’ll probably have some sales before this summer, but we’re going to have to move a bunch of merchandise by shopping cart.”

Daunted by the amount of work, Johnson looked at all of the stuff currently in the building. She said she is glad that they will be able to move everything over to the new store at their leisure.

“Everything doesn’t need to be out all at once,” she said. “We can take our time.”

But, even with the convenience, Johnson is concerned that the aging staff will not be able to get everything over to the new building.

She said it is going to take a lot of energy — something that many of the volunteers do not always possess.

As time gets closer, she encourages more people — of all age groups — to get involved, saying they can always use more help.

“We really need more young blood to help us out,” she said. “The move isn’t going to be easy.”

The Shoppe is currently open Fridays from 12 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

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