It’s been two years, three months, 8 days since I made my New Year’s Resolution to volunteer at the MCC Abby East Thrift Shop in Abbotsford. It is probably the only resolution that I’ve kept, certainly the only one I’ve kept for this long. I have never regretted making it.
Choosing MCC was a natural decision for me because I work for the organization (see ‘About Me’ if you want more info about that.) I already know that MCC does good work with the money it raises through its 9 thrift shops in BC. I chose the Abby East location, even though I live closer to the MCC Plaza, because at the time, it was much more in need of volunteers than any of MCC’s other shops.
Most thrift shops support charities. Salvation Army stores support a whole host of social services, everything from disaster response to addictions counselling. M2W2 (which stands for Man to man, Woman to woman) pairs men and women with people in prison to foster relationships with them while they’re there and then helping them when they are released. SPCA cares and advocates for domestic, farm and wild animals. These are just three examples of organizations that are supported by thrift shops and all of them use volunteers to fully or partially staff their stores, just like MCC.
The beauty of having volunteers staff your shop is that it allows a much larger portion of your sales to actually go to the good work that the charity does. It’s a no-brainer.
But that’s not why I volunteer. I volunteer because it is good for my soul. So much of what I do for a living is “brain” work – even the other ways in which I volunteer (with youth and music ministry at my church) requires mental energy. Sometimes I’m as exhausted by the mental work as I would be had I run a marathon (at least that’s what I imagine, not having ever come close to running, never mind running a marathon!)
When I sort and shelve toys at MCC Abby East every Thursday afternoon, I use my organizational and aesthetic skills to make the toy area attractive and functional. I’ll spend a couple of hours doing that and helping tidy clothing racks and other areas of the shop. Then I go home, knowing I’ve done something useful and appreciated, knowing that I’ve done my little part to help MCC raise funds for its international work. Knowing that sorting stuffies has contributed to building water cisterns in Brazil, or HIV/AIDS work in Tanzania, or peace work in Colombia gives me such joy. It is invigorating.
Also, it gives me the opportunity to check out the deals. Hey, there should always be perks, don’t you think?
Where and why do you volunteer?