Community Kindness: 'It's like multiple good deeds in one'

News-DemocratJuly 14, 2013 

— Though 16-year-old Alyssa Pellmann put in enough volunteer hours at the Community Kindness Re-Sale Shoppe for her National Honor Society requirements, she plans on going back to help.

Alyssa said she likes that the non-profit organization exists to help people.

"The economy is bad so people are looking for cheaper clothes or used appliances, but the money they're spending goes to help even more people," Alyssa said. "A huge chunk of the store's proceeds go to other charities. It's like multiple good deeds in one."

Charlie Kramer, the volunteer general manager, says the not-for-profit thrift store needs more people like Alyssa to step forward this summer.

The store has grown over time with more and more donations coming in and a greater customer base, Kramer said.

"If someone like (Belleville Township Supervisor) Dennis Korte calls and says this family needs clothes, we respond," Kramer said.

Kramer said this is good news because it means the store brings in enough to continue to donate $60,000 annually, in recent years, to about 20 metro-east charity groups, such as the Community Interfaith Food Pantry and the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois.

The store donated $23,000 in 2003, the year it opened.

But having enough volunteers to run the shop is key, Kramer said.

The store at 500 E. Main St. needs volunteers to sort incoming donations, price merchandise, maintain showroom items on display and similar tasks.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The store will work with volunteers to set shifts that fit volunteers' availability.

Alyssa, who will be a senior at Belleville West High School in the fall, spent 45 hours at the store between March and June.

Alyssa said there is plenty to do. She spent her time sorting clothing donations and displaying them in the store.

"It's nice to see what people donate that we can then sell at a reasonable price to others," Alyssa said. "There are lots of name brand clothes donated -- really nice clothes I know people can use."

Alyssa said it was memorable helping one customer find a wedding dress. The dresses were stored in boxes and there was a dress from the 1950s.

"None of them were her size, but I think she had fun trying them on," Alyssa said.

Alyssa said what will also bring her back to the store is the kindness of the other volunteers and the atmosphere of the store.

"The people I worked with were really sweet," Alyssa said. "They talked to me and got to know me. ... They were really interested and listened even though I'm young."

Alyssa said she would recommend any high school student in search of a place to volunteer to start with Community Kindness.

"The place really grows on you."

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.

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