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VGH Thrift Store volunteers rock!

Like a skipping stone bouncing across the water, every volunteer action makes a direct impact. From our VGH Thrift Store, the ripples spread to encircle and benefit patients, clients and residents across Vancouver.

“I’m inspired every day by the commitment our volunteers make to help raise funds for Vancouver hospitals and services,” says James Ferrier, VGH Thrift Store manager. “I’m so proud of how our volunteers make this store a cheery place, and for how much they accomplish to help make the store a financial success.”

Our volunteers do it all

No job is too big – or too messy – for VGH Thrift Store volunteers Varun (left) and Dong, who helped to paint the wall behind the cash desk.

“Volunteers are the store’s backbone,” says Angela Kwan, part-time volunteer coordinator. “We depend on their selfless spirit and endless energy to maintain daily operations and generate much-needed funds for medical equipment and other services.”

Ranging in age from 15 to 75, VGH Thrift Store volunteers come from all walks of life and almost half have volunteered for anywhere from two to ten years. The team does just about everything — from loading and unloading furniture and donations — sometimes in the cold and rain — to organizing sale displays, bagging purchases and vacuuming. Volunteers, says Angela, regularly “go above and beyond.”

Thanks to our volunteers, the VGH Thrift Store disburses at least $30,000 each year to fund equipment, projects, services and events at VGH, UBC Hospital, GF Strong and other Vancouver facilities. Our patients, clients and residents benefit in so many ways — and so do our volunteers.

Meet Phyllis and Danny

Phyllis Wilcox, a retiree and long-time VGH Thrift Store volunteer.

Phyllis Wilcox, a retired RBC employee, and Danny Ly, a university student, are just two of our 85 VGH Thrift Store volunteers. They share a passion for making a difference and generously shared their stories with us.

How many years have you volunteered with the VGH Thrift Store?

Phyllis: I’ve been volunteering for the hospital and the thrift shop for 11 years in May.

Danny: One year.

Why did you choose to volunteer with the VGH Thrift Store?

Danny: I stumbled upon the store one day after work when I was in need of a pair of tear-away pants from the ’90s [that’s another story!]. I found exactly what I was looking for at an extremely reasonable price. The atmosphere was pleasant, the selection abundant and the cashier helping me out gave me some of the friendliest customer service I’ve ever received. After I saw a posting online for volunteers, I knew I wanted to be part of the team and give back to the community.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the VGH Thrift Store?

Phyllis: I worked in the same RBC branch for 15 years and the friendships I formed there are so important to me. I had no idea I would have the same relationships within a volunteer position. I have customers who come in on Thursdays just to say hi and, of course, they usually find something to go home with. I love the relationships I’ve formed with my Thursday co-workers, too — James, Maia, Andrea and Ben. I look forward to my shift every week.

Danny Ly, a university student and VGH Thrift Store volunteer, stumbled upon the store one day after work.

Danny: I enjoy the moments of nostalgia I get every time someone donates a toy from my childhood — and adding books to my collection. Finding pieces of literature I’ve been meaning to read always brings me joy, but at this rate I’m going to have to buy another bookshelf!

What is your most memorable day at the VGH Thrift Store?

Phyllis: I have many memories, but one highlight was when I had some jewelry checked — and discovered I had an $800 gold find! I was very excited, as was Maia, who works with me. We high-fived all afternoon!

Danny: The morning we painted the wall behind the cash desk. We wore garbage bags like raincoats to protect our clothes. When the job was done, and the stained bags disposed of, Varun [a volunteer] forgot all about the paint still being wet and leaned his back against the wall!

What would you like people to know about the VGH Thrift Store?

Phyllis: I have worked with a lot of people in my 10 years at the store, but this past year has been great.   James [store manager] has been a real ray of sunshine for the shop as all the customers will attest.

Danny: Even though each of us has our own personal hobbies and interests, we share a common bond in that we all choose to dedicate our time and efforts to the store.

Visit the VGH Thrift Store at 120 E. Broadway, Vancouver. Web: http://vghthriftstore.ca/.