It takes a lot of used soccer cleats, ping pong balls, lamp shades and ceramic cow cookie jars to raise $60,000 in grants for charity, but the Community Kindness Re-sale Shoppe has managed it and their batch of about 40 volunteers and a few paid workers are pushing to raise more.
Volunteer general manager Charlie Kramer and volunteer manager Judy Spietz opened the Shoppe at 500 E. Main St. in Belleville in 2003 and have been collecting money and items to sell to shoppers who are looking for a bargain or something with a more vintage feel.
"It's a nice collection of all these treasures," said Kathy Janik, of Freeburg, as she held eight dinner plates she wanted. "I get my eight plates for $4 and somebody in the community benefits. More power to 'em."
The proceeds are donated as grants to a list of charity groups which has grown to 22. Among them are the Franklin Neighborhood Community Association, Seeds of Hope, the Epilepsy Foundation, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and several area food pantries.
The $60,000 mark is one they've been able to attain for a second year in a row as they've steadily built up their grants offerings from $23,000 in 2003 to their current amount. And along the way, they purchased -- and paid off -- their 30,000-square-foot shop and warehouse, replaced the roof and electrical system, in addition to other upgrades, to make the Shoppe a staple for years to come.
The group prides itself on providing for the community, but also does a lot to maintain morale for their fellow volunteering troops who come back year after year to keep give their time. Most of the volunteers are retired and the Shoppe gives them a social outlet with a sense of purpose.
"They're good people to work for and to volunteer with. I'm always busy," said 5-year volunteer Joyce Brockway of Belleville as she sorts and prices coats.
"I enjoy people. We have a lot of fun," said 6-year volunteer Dino Behrmann of Belleville, admitting it's a lot of work.
"It's never-ending," she said, smiling.
"I get out of bed at 5 a.m. and if it's a beautiful day, my memories of hunting and fishing just float through my head, but then I think ... it's time to go to work," said Shoppe volunteer general manager Charlie Kramer.
But he and fellow founder Judy Spietz make the Shoppe their well-stocked, clean and quirky passion.
"It's our calling," said Spietz. "I've just always wanted to do something to help people. It's a good feeling," she added.
For more information about volunteering or donating items, call 618-222-9980.