Volunteers sought for Optimist Club Thrift Store
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Optimist Club of Copperas Cove has had a thrift store at 332 Cove Terrace Shopping Center for more than a decade.
The store is managed and operated by volunteers who are seeking a little help from the local community to keep doing what they do – raising funds for the benefit of the community and local nonprofits, and helping people.
Triss Lemire manages the store and the volunteers, and talked about the store’s current needs.
“We need help sorting donations and hanging clothes. Sometimes we’ll get together during the week, but we all have a lot of other things going on. This past week with no air, we didn’t have a chance to come in during the week,” Lemire said. Now we’re in the changeover, trying to get Halloween out, get rid of the summer clothes so we can put out the fall and winter clothes. It would be so nice to get caught up.”
Three weeks ago, the store received six truckloads of donations. With the volume of donations, whatever the store can’t use, it doesn’t go to waste, said Lemire.
“Right now, the books we can’t use, we’ll give to the library. They’re going to have a big book sale at one of the schools. We’re also a drop-off place for box tops, and we collect tabs from soda cans, which go to Children’s Miracle Network. With some of our shoe donations, we have turned them over to CCISD to be distributed to children in need. Word has been put out to the campuses that if there is a child in need, we will also help clothe them.”
Anyone can volunteer, and Lemire said it would be an ideal opportunity for high school students who need to log volunteer hours. The store is only open on Friday and Saturday, but volunteers can help sort clothing and donations at other times.
Tanja Ridings is one of the regular volunteers and stayed busy at the sales counter on Saturday.
“I love my people here. The environment is so nice. You’re able to see people walk out with four or five bags of things, and it does you good to see them find something special, or give them help.”
She wishes more people knew about the thrift store, too.
“We have a lot of people who come in, like some people did yesterday saying, ‘We’ve lived here for two years and didn’t know you were here.’”
In addition to sorting donated items and helping customers, Ridings creates displays for the front window and also makes crafts and other items to sell in the store.
“I love giving to the community. It feels good, having the freedom to come in and help out.”
Francine Jones has volunteered at the store for several years and echoed Ridings’ comments.
“I love seeing the people. I feel like the store gives back to our community,” she said, “The first reason that got me down here, was I had a stroke. Being here at the store taught me I can talk to people and do what I’m supposed to do. It’s been a blessing for me, but we need more volunteers. I just love that it goes back to our community and that’s something we can all be proud of.”
Sandor Vegh, president of the Optimist Club of Copperas Cove, said the store has been in existence for about 13 years and its present location for eight years. It started out as a yard sale effort which then led to the store.
Vegh said that the store donates about $20,000 annually to local organizations such as Cove House, McLane’s Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. Through referrals, they also assist families in need.
“The Catholic Church will send us people who come for help, and they can come here and pick up whatever they need, when new families get here and they are trying to establish a home.”
Even paying customers get a great deal, Vegh said.
“Our prices are so low that people are shocked, they get sticker shock in a good way,” Vegh said. “But our main thing is to help people, and everything goes back to the community.”
Those who would like information on volunteering can stop by the store on Friday or Saturday, or call Sandor Vegh at 254-290-8791.