Carrying On A Family Tradition With Friends

On Sunday the Winnipeg Free Press carried a story about the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue where I am a regular volunteer. Profits from the store go to the Mennonite Central Committee an aid organization that has programs to help those in need in North America and around the world.

My mother with a group of friends and volunteers that she worked with at the MCC store in Steinbach. Mom is in the middle of the back row

Volunteering at an MCC store is a family tradition. My mother Dorothy volunteered at the store in Steinbach Manitoba for many years and my mother-in-law Anne was a volunteer at the MCC store in Leamington, Ontario. After my parents moved to Winnipeg my Dad Paul volunteered at an MCC store in the city’s Kildonan area with friends from the seniors’ complex where he lived.

The four Altona friends who founded the thrift store movement. My honorary aunt Selma Loewen is second to the left.

The Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store movement which has spread across North America was co-founded fifty years ago by a group of friends from Altona. Selma Loewen (Auntie Selma to me) was part of this group. She was an honorary aunt of mine since she and her husband Bill were dear friends of my parents.

Clearly, in volunteering at the MCC Thrift Store I am carrying on a family tradition.

For a time I was in charge of the books at the Thrift Store and I have also been a front desk clerk.

I began working at the Selkirk Store when I first retired from teaching and have filled many different roles there but for the last number of years have worked on the second floor of the building with a group of women from my church, sorting through boxes of donations and pricing items for the store shelves.

One of my current responsiblities at the store is sorting and pricing Christmas items. (Photo by Ruth Bonneville- Winnipeg Free Press)
Gwen Peters is one of the friends from my church I work with at the Thrift Shop. ( Photo by Ruth Bonneville- Winnipeg Free Press)

My friends and I visit and talk and share stories as we work and eat our lunches together. We tell each other about the good times as well as the challenges in our lives.

Our group enjoys an outing several years ago to a tea room in Altona. Marge our inspiring leader is on the right-hand side second from the far end of the row.

We are lucky to have Marge Sawatsky as our leader and organizer. Every week she sends out an e-mail to our group giving updates on our work at the store and the news we’ve shared about our lives. So even if we haven’t been able to make it to the shop that week we are kept informed. Marge’s messages help to create a wonderful sense of community that keeps us coming back to volunteer.

I hope I can continue my work at the Thrift Shop for many more years carrying on a family tradition with friends.

Other posts………

Christmas All Year Round

Going On A Field Trip

I’m a Shop Girl And I Love It

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