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For 55 years, Treasures Thrift Shop at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church has not only provided shoppers in Armonk and neighboring communities with great bargains, but has also served a greater purpose.
Last Thursday, the church held a special reception to recognize its volunteers and present checks to six local organizations that benefit from the efforts of those who help run the store, the customers and the community members who donate new and gently used merchandise to sell.
Treasures donated a total of $26,000 to the Emergency Shelter Program, Hope’s Door, Hudson Valley Honor Flight, Neighbors Link, ReSet, which resettles refugees locally, and the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, which represents roughly half of its proceeds. The remainder of the money that the shop brings in goes to help the church pay for its expenses.
Longtime Treasures manager Trina Fontaine said as important as the sales are by giving residents a chance to buy clothes, shoes, purses, accessories, books and items for the home, it’s also pitching in to help the organizations who need the support to do their work and help others in the area.
“Treasures is a volunteer staff, eco-conscious place to shop for affordable new and gently-used donated merchandise,” said Fontaine, who will be stepping down as manager at the end of this week. “We are committed to building a healthier community through our support of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and local nonprofits and continuing volunteer opportunities in a warm and friendly environment.”
While the shop has been a mainstay in the community since the 1960s, Treasures had to navigate challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was shuttered for about 13 months before reopening in April 2021.
Volunteers used the time to reorganize the store, located in the lower level of the church building near Maple Avenue and Bedford Road. There are racks of clothing and the other merchandise where people can browse when Treasures is open, which is Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The church’s Mission and Outreach Committee decides which organizations share in the donations based on a variety of factors, said John Bernson, a St. Stephen’s parishioner and warden. Church members and volunteers may also recommend nonprofits for consideration.
“We have typically tried to find organizations that are local, number one, and number two (are) relatively small, so there’s a local impact and the organizations are small enough where we can make a difference,” Bernson said.
Church member Lena Cavanna, who also is on the board of the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, said the volunteers who make the shop possible work incredibly hard and the congregation and its leaders wanted to make sure that they were given proper credit by holding a reception in person. Previously, the donations to the nonprofits were distributed with little fanfare, but that changed this year, she said.
“We wanted the volunteers to be here, to be part of the process rather than just writing the check and that’s it,” Cavanna said. “That personal touch, it means a lot and it means a lot to the volunteers and it means a lot to the organizations.”
For the representatives of the six organizations, there was deep appreciation for the support. The nonprofits would have a difficult time providing their services without the help from the community.
“Every service we provide to victims of domestic violence we provide free of charge, so we totally rely on the community and then we rely on county, state and federal grants,” said Barbara Turk, director of development for the Hawthorne-based Hope’s Door. “But it is our donor base that usually keeps us going.”
The pandemic put a strain on vulnerable residents causing a 40 to 50 percent spike in the number of families that turned to the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry for help, said Sharon Seidell, a member of the pantry’s Board Management Committee and the president of the Bedford Presbyterian Church.
St. Stephen’s is one of 14 are congregations in the interfaith alliance that helps support the pantry.
“It’s really critical and we depend on the support of all of the congregations,” Seidell said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/