The Thrift and Gift Shop has been an Orange institution since 1973. Planned Living Assistance Network (PLAN) of Southeast Texas, a program that offers services to elderly and adults of any age with mental illness, sponsored and opened the shop on 5th Street in Orange. Retail business downtown began to slow down and the shop needed extensive repair. The members of the shop voted to merge with PLAN and sell the building. All assets were transferred to PLAN and in March of 2003, they purchased the Salk Elementary School building and property.

In September 2003, the Thrift and Gift Shop opened in one wing of the school; in 2004, the Azalea Activity Center, an independent support group for persons with a mental illness, opened in the school; and in November 2006, PLAN donated 2. 4 acres of land to Roselawn Manor, independent housing for those with chronic mental illness. The houses the Bridge Club of Orange and the Art Club.

The shop is a non-profit store that sells good, used clothing, craft items, books and household items. The items sold in the store are donated by those in the community. “We take almost anything as long as it’s nice and clean,” said Mary Holland, shop volunteer. Many donate items that did not sell at their garage sales. The community is encouraged to donate such items, but the items must be brought to the store.

There is one person on the payroll with the Thrift and Gift Shop, the office manager Kay Nuse. She keeps the books and handles the taxes. All other on staff are volunteers.

Randy Benoit, president of the Thrift and Gift Shop and the first vice president of PLAN, said “we need more help. We need more men. We have a few, but they don’t come very often. If we had more men [volunteers] we could get more things done.”

The Shop does need volunteers to help run the store, but they also are in need of volunteers of a different nature. Twice a week, volunteer quilters meet at the shop to work on quilts for a few hours each day.

The quilters at the Thrift and Gift Shop have been quilting for more years than they can remember. “We’ve been quilting since we’ve been open at 5th Street ,” said Barbara Miles.

The quilters make quilts for the public and the shop. The quilts for the shop are raffle off or sold in the store. Tickets for the raffled quilts can be bought at the shop. Sometimes, people will donate parts of the quilts that are made for the shop and sometimes they have to buy the pieces they need. “We take donations and put them together,” Miles said. Vendors also sell their quilts in the shop and the shop receives 20-percent of the sale.

The shop raffles two quilts a year, summer and winter. On Tuesday, Dec.14 at 11 a.m., the shop will raffle off a quilt at their meeting. Those who have purchased tickets do not need to be at the meeting to win. They will contact the winner to come pick up the quilt. The tickets cost $1 a piece or six for $5.

The quilts vary in price. The money made on the quilts and all of the items in the shop go back into the shop.

Each quilt takes a different amount of time to make. It depends on the size of the quilt and how many quilters show up.

Those needing repairs to their quilts are can bring them by the shop for the volunteers to look at. If the repairs are minor, they are willing to find someone to take care of the quilt.

“This is just something for us to get together and do, said Miles. The shop is always looking for good quilters, but the ladies will teach those who are willing learn how to quilt.

Purchases in the shop can be made by cash or check only.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers