This past weekend marked the 40th anniversary of the Penny Pincher Thrift Store, and 36 years that Winona Morgan, now 91, has been volunteering with Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.
Despite all the speeches, birthday cake, and festivities going on outside the Fraser Highway thrift store Saturday morning, Morgan stuck pretty close to her perch inside– happily sorting through all the costume jewelry that had come in since her last volunteer shift a few weeks earlier.
The Langley City resident is currently the longest standing volunteer still active with the thrift store.
In 1981, a “good friend” talked her into working at the auxiliary’s gift shop in the hospital.
While she continued in that role for 12 years, she also learned of a need for volunteers at the auxiliary’s thrift store – then next to the former Buckerfield’s location at Fraser Highway and Glover Road. She signed up.
Morgan remembers cutting the grass. However, not lawn out front of the store, but the grass growing up through the floor boards in the back room. Then, she remembers the move to the Rainbow Mall, followed by the relocation to the previous location on 56th Avenue – next to Andrea’s Restaurant.
Through the years, she volunteered as much as three days a week, often working the cash desk. And she remembers loving every bit of it.
With the move to the newest facilities (in the former Coast Capital Credit Union on the one-way strip of downtown Langley City), she chose to dial things back a bit.
Now, Morgan said, she works on average one day every two weeks, and although she’s given up her position at the till, she is still able to sit and chat with customers from her spot amongst the jewelry – at the front of the store.
She’s confirmed that she’s “indeed” seen a lot of changes, through the years – including a shift to blue bibs for the volunteer uniform.
But she still proudly wears her old, but pristine green smock loaded with pins – the one she wears most proudly is a lapel pin marking 35-plus years of service with the auxiliary.
Morgan is one of hundreds of volunteers who make the auxiliary and its thrift store such a success, said Penny Pincher’s committee member and long-time volunteer Linda Steier.
In fact, its the people who give so much of themselves to the auxiliary, who are key to Penny Pincher’s past and future growth and prosperity, said Steier.
“We’re proud. We’re happy, and we’re tired,” she said.
“So come and join us, and learn how to play,” she said at the anniversary bash, taking the chance to invite people to consider volunteering with their “worthy” organization.
In fact, Steier and auxiliary president Diane Thorton – who has been a volunteer with the auxiliary for the past 11 years – didn’t pass up on an opportunities to solicit for more people to help, individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in.
“We’re always looking for more volunteers,” Thornton said, noting they could use people of all ages, people who can spare a minimum of four hours a week.
No retail experience is required – just a keen willingness to make a difference, Steier confirmed.
Noting that there are only four or five guys currently on the team, Thornton added: “we can always use a few good men, too.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 604-514-6161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications forms are also available on their website.
A store with history
Penny Pincher is the longest standing thrift store in downtown Langley.
It has been part of the community for four decades, and since 1994 alone has raised more than $8.5 million for the Langley hospital.
“We thank the people who donate their time. We thank the people who donate their goods. And, we thank you lovely, crazy shoppers,” Steier said.
Among the most recent purchases – made possible thanks to the money raised by the auxiliary – was a bus for the residential care unit at the hospital, explained Thornton, auxiliary president since 2011.
A $125,000 donation made the purchase of the new bus possible, but Thornton said it not the first. In fact, it’s the third one bought thanks to the auxiliary through the years.
“We’re really quite excited by [and proud of] that,” she said, noting the money was raised by Penny Pincher, the gift shop, vendors tables in the lobby of the hospital, and auxiliary donations from community organizations such as Langley Good Times Cruise-In.
The last bus used to transport residential care patients to and from events and functions, she said, had all but run out of steam, and was replaced by a new 2017 Ford Girardin.
The bus was just one of several items purchased for the hospital during the past year. Other items included five colonoscope scopes, 10 patient stretchers valued at $100,000, a vascular site worth $39,000, bariatric bed for $24,000, specialty mattresses valued at $22,000, a video glidescope worth $20,000, a gyne stretcher for the ER valued at $14,000, and two vital sign monitors worth $9,200.
“Our members work very hard and we’re very proud of our accomplishments, so we’re here to celebrate,” Thornton concluded at Saturday’s anniversary party.
Auxiliary older than hospital
While the thrift store marked its 40th anniversary this past weekend, Wednesday was a milestone for the auxiliary, itself.
In 2017, it is celebrating 70 years of operations in this community. It was started in 1947, a year before Langley’s hospital actually came into fruition.
Literally pre-dating the hospital, the auxiliary actually grew out of a group of local women called to action to help plan and prepare for the Cottage hospital opening in the following fall of 1948.
To mark the auxiliary’s anniversary, there was another small celebration at the hospital on Wednesday, July 26 – complete with another cake. Another larger celebration is expected this fall, Steier said.