2016-10-06 / Front Page

Each Day Is A Busy Day At Hope Chest

By Erich T. Doerr


The process of sorting items by type in the back room at the Hope Chest is a fast one to keep up with the number of new items arriving daily. Here volunteer Mike Swanton moves a cart filled with hundreds of books in the back room Thursday, September 29. The seven boxes here were just part of a large donation that totaled 17 boxes. The process of sorting items by type in the back room at the Hope Chest is a fast one to keep up with the number of new items arriving daily. Here volunteer Mike Swanton moves a cart filled with hundreds of books in the back room Thursday, September 29. The seven boxes here were just part of a large donation that totaled 17 boxes. Gas company retiree Tucker Thomas has new duties as the backroom manager at the Hope Chest Resale Shop. He started Thursday, September 22, and the paid position is his first at Hope Chest.

“I’ve been busy,” Mr. Thomas said. “I never realized how much stuff moves through here.”

He looked for a job at Hope Chest after finishing up a number of projects at home and wanting to try something new. His wife, Blanche, volunteers at the store when not working at her seasonal summer job.

“I like seeing all the people coming in and out,” Mr. Thomas said. “There are many here I haven’t seen for a while.”


Tucker Thomas of St. Ignace (center) has taken over as the new backroom manager at the Hope Chest Resale Shop. Here many of the workers at the store who work in the backroom or have connections to it are pictured together Thursday, September 29, including (back, from left) Ann Freel, Hope Chest Operations Administrator Cathie Tielbar, Marian King, David Cody; (front) Mary Burris, Donna Pope, Mr. Thomas, Kathy Stephan, cashier Betty Swanton, and her son Mike Swanton. Tucker Thomas of St. Ignace (center) has taken over as the new backroom manager at the Hope Chest Resale Shop. Here many of the workers at the store who work in the backroom or have connections to it are pictured together Thursday, September 29, including (back, from left) Ann Freel, Hope Chest Operations Administrator Cathie Tielbar, Marian King, David Cody; (front) Mary Burris, Donna Pope, Mr. Thomas, Kathy Stephan, cashier Betty Swanton, and her son Mike Swanton. He oversees the four to eight volunteers working in the back room to unload donated items, sort them, and put them out for sale in the store. He also performs some light maintenance.

The operation has run smoothly during his first weeks on the job and he is not planning any major changes in the months ahead.

“We all know our jobs,” Mr. Thomas said.

Items that are donated for resale at Hope Chest are processed quickly through the backroom so they can go on sale. The sorting area features many tables where all items of one type can be placed together. The usual divisions include kitchen items, clothing, crafts, linens, and one table for both electronics and videotapes. Sometimes donated items are sold out the door in as little as one hour. On the occasion the store receives more items than it can hope to sell, some of the excess stock is transported downstate to be sold at a similar charity store in Grand Rapids.

Mr. Thomas recommends people make sure the items they drop off are usable. The most common items the store receives are clothing, children’s toys, books, kitchen items, shoes, and boots. Hope Chest does not accept old, damaged mattresses, items that are rusty, fish tanks, and televisions that are more than five years old. Damaged and stained clothes are thrown out.

Hope Chest just paved its parking lot. Preparations for the project were done in August with main work taking place during the first week of September. The lot was excavated and then paved over the course of five days.

The paving project only required the store to close for one day while work was done. The store’s staff also helped with the project, and Cathie Tielbar, Hope Chest operations administrator, even helped direct traffic for a day.

The store’s next big project will be to install a new roof on its building in October, and Mrs. Tielbar said work should be com- pleted by the end of the month.

Hope Chest also set up an electronics recycling station on September 14 and 15 and collected 12 pallets of old computers, printers, and televisions for safe disposal. The special recycling opportunity may be repeated in the future, Mrs. Tielbar said, but Hope Chest does not normally take old electronic devices for disposal.

Mrs. Tielbar said the Hope Chest is always looking for additional volunteers, and residents are encouraged to stop by and see what they do at the store. This is the time of year when seasonal volunteers return to their winter homes, so assistance is always needed. The experience is worth it.

“We work hard and have a lot of fun here,” Mrs. Tielbar said.

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