Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, November 19, 1977, Image 42

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    —Lancaster Farming, Saturday, November 19,1977
Recycling is their business
A stuffed owl is just one charming example of the
stuffed dolls and animals which come to the
Mennonite Central Committee for sale from the
craftsmen of eastern Kentucky.
Feature Writer
Recycling is a popular
word these days, but hardly
an unfamiliar concept
among the Pennsylvania
Dutch folk in this area.
There isn’t a family around
that hasn’t recycled clothing
regularly, passing items
from one child to the next in
the family or among close
The Re-Uzit Shop at 50 E.
Main Street in Mount Joy
has made a business of
recycling, and the com
munity is the beneficiary.
The Shop, sponsored by the
Mennonite Central Com
mittee, specializes in used
clothing and household
items, and for a small sum
you can find almost anything
you need, from anklets to
Verna Brandt, manager of
the Re-Uzit Shop, explains
the store this way, “It gives
people an opportunity to
unload things they don’t
want and allows them to buy
things at a lower cost.”
Proceeds are donated to the
MCC which uses the money
for overseas work and relief
work in this country.
After a July opening, “We
have been swamped with
donations - people have
donated anything and
everything. We do have to
turn down furniture, because
we have no place to store it.
“We look at it as a com
munity service - and it is not
just for lower income
people,” Vema said. “You
can buy good things at very
reasonable prices. ”
The most important aspect
of the store is its good used
clothing. “We do ask for it to
be cleaned before it is
donated, but occasionally
some of us do wash items.
We get a lot of nice clothes.
We sort everything given to
us and we keep those items
which we feel will be of use
to somebody. A few things
which are not usable, we
discard,” Vema said.
The group also regularly
donates to the Salvation
Army, the American Mission
to Greece, and the Bowery
Mission in New York City.
Vema explained that they
try to send usable items
along with some less
desirable ones so that the
agencies will be willing to
One large part of the
store’s inventory consists of
self-help items purchased
from the Mennonite Central
Committee. Verna ex
plained, “These are pur
chased from many countries
with the MCC paying the
craftsmen a living wage in
that country.” This form of
help is particularly useful
and better than just sending
clothing, Vema explained,
because clothing styles and
needs are different. “The
craftsmen receive a small
wage, so we don’t need to
charge a lot for the items.”
Indeed most of the gifts
featured -in the store are
very reasonably priced, and
the variety is as great as any
conventional gift shop.
There is exquisitely carved
jewelry, carved wooden
animals and puzzles, baskets
and woven items, hanging
plant holders and the largest
array of really unusual
stuffed dolls and animals
Vema said, “We select
things from MCC’s stock,
and try to get items which
will move. It was difficult at
first, but now we have some
idea of what will sell.”
The store is completely
staffed by volunteers, with
85 to 90 on the roster to help
regularly. Vema explained
that there is a minimum of
two on duty at any one time,
and usually three or four are
at work. “Several will be
sorting and pricing and
hanging items up, and one
must be at the cash
Vema is very proud of her
volunteers, and said, “Some
work a few hours, some work
one day a month and some
work one day a week.”
Volunteers are welcome on
whatever schedule is con
venient to them. A volunteer
coordinator does the
scheduling to ensure that
someone is on duty to keep
the store open during its
regular business hours of 9
a.m to 5 p.m. daily. Fridays
it is open from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Verna sees the Re-Uzit
shop as a service for the
volunteers. “They can work
when they want to and how
much they want to. It gives
them an outlet they wouldn’t
otherwise have. They meet
other people, and it gets
them out of the house. It is
good for them to have a
break from routine, and be
doing something worthwhile
She said conversation in
the sorting room ranges
from canning and freezing to
other lively topics, with
many women being from the
farming community. While
women sort the donations,
they also have a sewing
machine on hand for minor
repairs and an ironing board
to spruce up some things.
When a volunteer reports
for the first time, Vema
said, “I put her under
someone’s wing for the day.
This has worked out pretty
well. The first thing they are
asked to do is just look
around the store and get an
idea of the items and their
prices.” She explained that
as volunteers get familiar
with the operation, they are
given more responsibility.
Volunteers, for instance, do
all the pricing of the items,
following a printed sheet of
suggested guidelines. A
pricing committee oversees
the setting of prices, but
Verna said there is often a
wide variety of ideas on what
an item should cost.
Verna herself is an unpaid
volunteer which she explains
by saying, “I’m not in
terested in being a paid
manager.” She retired two
years ago as a nurse and in
her “retirement” she
doesn’t want to feel com
pletely tied down. She said,
“In the first few months I
• spent a lot of time over at the
store. Now I’m in a few
hours in the morning.” Her
job is mostly coordinating,
and she feels she has very
qualified volunteers to keep
things going smoothly.
“I enjoy the work - but you
have to know your limits.
Working with the volunteers
is an education in in
terpersonal relationships,”
she says with a laugh.
She claims to have no
background which would
qualify her for the job.
‘ ‘They drafted me and talked
me into it.” As she reflects,
she acknowledges, “I had a
business course one time and
I worked for an optometrist
for a few years and did some
office work. As a nurse, you
need to learn to organize
pretty well. If you don’t keep
order, you’re sunk.”
Verna retired from the
Elizabethtown Children’s
Hospital after 27 years as a
nurse. Part of her working
career was spent at the
Children’s Rehabilitation
Institute in Maryland, a
school for children afflicted
with Cerebral Palsy which is
now part of the John F.
Kennedy Institute at John
“I enjoyed working with
children. They are much
easier to care for than
(Continued on Page 45)
Carved animals make up a large portion of the self-help items in the Re-Uzi
Shop in Mount Joy. Verna Brandt points out some of the animals from thi
Philippines and from Israel.
Volunteer Anna Mary Newcomer, Mount Joy R 3, is hard at work sorting men'
trousers by waist measurement. Anna Mary spends one day a week in the shop.
These intricately carved animals were created by craftsmen in the Philippines.
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