32 years of caring, sharing and volunteering

Sara J. Kolb, Plains

careshare1.jpgCare & Share Shoppes, Inc. began its mission here in the Souderton Center on November 3, 1975. This was a vision that came to fruition by Wayne Clemens, Norman and Janet Vincent, Bob Kratz, Harold and Myrtle Mininger, and the late Walton Hackman. By April 10, 1976, the first $10,000 check was given to Russell Musselman, Franconia Mennonite Conference treasurer, who handed it to John Hostetler, Mennonite Central Committee Material Aid Director.

When Care & Share began in 1975, 40 Mennonite and Brethren in Christ congregations provided the volunteers and a monthly donation to help cover the rent. These were ways that the churches were directly involved. As customers entered the store, they were reminded by the signage– that this mission was being done “In the Name of Christ,” the MCC motto.

Today the operations continue with the same values and integrity even though there have been several changes of location for the business over the past 32 years. We have moved from where the Franconia Conference offices are presently, to four individual stores at the other end of the shopping center. Generous donations come in daily, which keep the clothing, furniture, and variety stores well stocked. Each donation prolongs the usefulness of quality used items. A purchase from an MCC thrift shop improves people’s lives by supporting the work of MCC and saving the earth’s resources – recycling and reusing. Ten Thousand Villages stocks new items each month from 32 developing countries. The sale of these items assists families with housing, food, and education for their children. We are very blessed as needs are met in our community and around the world.

We presently have 28 paid employees. However, our operation is only successful because of our 774 volunteers. Ten of the original volunteers are still volunteering with us today. One of those persons is Nancy Mininger. Nancy began volunteering because of an invitation from her mother-in-law, Myrtle Mininger, to sort clothing. She volunteered in a variety of ways, including working with Ruth Houpt to set up displays in the Clothing Shoppe. Presently, Nancy volunteers about 20 hours a week. Nancy’s busy sorting and pricing seasonal items, toys and other items donated to the variety store. She helps on the dock when needed, volunteering at least one weekend a month. Nancy is a member of the Frederick Mennonite Church, where she has volunteered a lot of her time by playing the piano, teaching Sunday School, and lending nursery care. She organizes the volunteers from Frederick Mennonite Church who occasionally volunteer on a Friday evening, and in recent years Nancy’s husband, Ray, has volunteered his construction abilities. Ray also presently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors. Their six grandchildren have all volunteered here at different times. The mission begun by Harold and Myrtle Mininger has continued on for several generations!

careshare2-raynancy.jpgFrom 1976 to present, we have contributed over $8,000,000 to MCC. It is because of our mission and the support of our community that this has been possible. Our Board of Directors and General Manager oversee the work of the three thrift stores and Ten Thousand Villages. Each shop has an advisory team. This team provides support for the manager, makes suggestions about the operation of the shoppe, and gives the shoppe team advice about new or on-going projects in the shoppe. In Montgomery Newspapers’ recent Reader’s Choice awards we were voted the 2007 #1 Thrift Store Winner.