Hill Thrift Shop Inc. is organizing a holiday stocking giveaway to benefit veterans at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City before the Christmas holiday. The thrift store has purchased 120 stockings and holiday cards, and is counting on its customers to take the stockings home, fill them with items from a suggestion list included with the stockings, write a note of gratitude to a veteran on the included holiday card for each stocking and return the filled stockings to the thrift store before Dec. 17.
"We decided that instead of doing an angel tree this year, we would do a veterans tree, as suggested by our treasurer, Mae (Owen)," said Hill Thrift Shop Inc. Manager Robyn Rose. "This project is near and dear to Mae's heart. Her husband is a veteran, she works with and goes to church with a lot of veterans. She is strongly pulled towards that, and she made it a special mission to raise funds for the new veterans home in Ogden."
"We kept a donation jar by the register for volunteers and customers to put change or donations into," Owen said.
"Our board of directors has given the new Ogden veterans home $1,000, and we collected an additional $800 in change and donations from our volunteers and customers," Rose added.
Owen also wanted to give stockings filled with needed items to the veterans who will reside in the new George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Home, but after she was told the nursing home would not have residents until after January, they decided to donate to the veterans residing at the Salt Lake City home instead. Either way, Owen knew it would benefit a veteran, and it would provide a teaching tool to her own and others' grandchildren.
"I wanted to teach my grandchildren about the importance of caring for our veterans," she explained. "I have six grandchildren who will each take a stocking, go to the store and I'll let them buy items for both men and women and fill out the cards. Then I'll take them with us to the VA home and they will help pass out the stockings. It will teach them about gratitude and giving to people, because Christmas can be such a 'get-get-get' holiday, so this will teach them to give."
"On Dec. 22, anyone who would like to go with us can caravan with us down to Salt Lake City and host a small party for the veterans that evening and hand out the stockings to each veteran," Rose elaborated. The exact time has not been arranged yet, so Rose suggests interested people call the thrift store after Dec. 17 to find out the arranged time.
Rose would also like to remind people of all ages that they can extend the giving season all year long by donating a piece of their time to volunteer at the thrift store.
"We constantly need volunteers because people are PCS-ing all the time and we lose really wonderful people that way."
Those with limited time are encouraged to volunteer as little or as much as they can.
"We're open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., but our volunteers don't have to stay here the whole time. Can you give me 20 minutes?" Rose usually asks potential volunteers who are short on time. "Just give me whatever you've got, and I'll take it!"
Parent-teenager teams are highly encouraged. "A lot of teens have community service hours to fulfill through their schoolwork and this is a great way for them to take care of that community service need as well as have bonding time with their parent," she said.
"But we'll take anyone, at any age! There are many different jobs to do here," Rose added, noting that the ages of the thrift store's current volunteers range from 10 years to 93 years.
The opportunities for people to give are boundless at the thrift store, Rose observed as she noted another way Team Hill could engage in the giving season.
"We are always in need of donations, as well. We do have a consignment feature, but if we get donations, we are able to retain 100 percent of the money. This allows us to donate as much as we do to the community."