The Abaco Cancer Society Thrift Shop celebrated its 10 year anniversary on August 10. A large number of volunteers gathered to reminisce over the shops successful journey for the last 10 years and to express gratefulness for the point it has reached today.
The Abaco Cancer Society was founded in 1990 and soon after began a series of fundraisers such as booths at the Christmas bazaars and jumble sales as fundraisers. The jumble sales, which took place outside dentist Vince Mcweeney’s office on Don MacKay Boulevard, became so popular that one of the society’s founding members, Marjolein Scott, came up with the idea of opening a thrift shop. Some people were skeptical that this could ever work but 10 years of successful growth have proved those naysayers wrong.
As a member of the Marsh Harbour library, Mrs. Scott visited that building frequently. Constantly searching in her mind for a suitable location for a thrift shop, she noticed that she always passed a locked door at the southern end of the library. Upon enquiry she was told by Yvonne Key that the room would be available but that since the room had at one time been used by Dr Gottlieb as his surgery, there was a very large x-ray machine in there which would have to be removed. Due to the danger posed by high amounts of radioactive material the x-ray machine had to be dismantled appropriately and so a technician was flown over from Florida to assist with the safety of the operation before all of this heavy equipment could be hauled away.
Once cleared, the original three thrift shop volunteers, Marjolein Scott, Jennifer Hudson and Wendy Gwynn, set to work with brooms, mops and buckets to transform the room which had sat collecting spiders, other bugs and dust over the years. Curtains were put up at the windows, a small air conditioning unit installed after which Ed Scott, Marjolein’s husband, set about making and installing some sturdy wooden shelves.
The room was very small and quickly became overcrowded so we were then given the use of an additional room at the northern end of the library. As the shop continued to increase in both the number of customers and amount of donations, tables were also set up outside on fair weather days.
After a couple of years a library committee began to make initial plans for a new library building and since the feeling was that the old library may soon be torn down Mrs. Scott turned her thoughts to an alternative site for the thrift shop.
Randy Key came to her aid in very generously donating the use of the steel building next to Abaco Groceries for use as a thrift shop. This location is very spacious allowing for the display of many more items of clothing, housewares and furniture and also a good storage and sorting area.
Ed and Marjolein Scott have done a beautiful job of painting and freshening up the inside making it a very attractive facility. Since moving to this new location the number of customers that frequent the shop on a Saturday has increased by leaps and bounds which is a blessing since the more goods sold the more money there is to help cancer sufferers on Abaco. The amount of donations has also vastly increased for which the society is very grateful because without donations the thrift shop cannot exist. They sell everything from designer clothes to work clothes, clothes for babies, teens and adults plus books, household items, trinkets and furniture.
The thrift shop is manned solely by volunteers who freely donate their time every Saturday to the running of the shop and all of the money raised is used to assist cancer patients of Abaco. Last year alone $48,000 was donated from the proceeds of the thrift shop to aid 62 patients. The Abaco Cancer Society is the only branch in the entire Bahamas that helps patients in this way.
One of the thrift shop’s most notorious visitors was the Barefoot Bandit who broke the lock on the door and trashed the shop on 7 August 2010. However, on finding the cash register empty, he, fortunately, only made away with T-shirts. Another unwelcome visitor was Hurricane Sandy which, on October 25, 2012, badly damaged the northern wall of the building causing the shop to be closed for one month for repairs.
The thrift shop volunteers are very grateful to all of the supporters who have provided them with donations and shopped with them over the years and continue to do so on a regular basis. They are always looking for clothes, household goods and furniture in good clean condition.
Marjolein Scott, Vice President of the Abaco Cancer Society and organizer of the thrift shop, is making a plea for people and families who have benefited from the proceeds of the thrift shop to collect and bring in donations of useable items. She suggests arranging collection points for donations, sorting the items, making sure items are clean and properly bagged, and especially transporting them from the cays where it may be more difficult for people to get over.
The Thrift Shop is open every Saturday morning from 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. Follow them on their Facebook page where special items can be bought and sold.
Upcoming Cancer Society events include:
Free Cancer Screening Clinics on September 7 between 9.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. at the Government Clinics in Marsh Harbour and Cooper’s Town. Pap smears and breast exams for women and PSA blood testing and digital exams for men.
November 9 3rd Annual Kayak Challenge at Little Harbour (with Friends of the Environment)
November 30 Abaco Island Artists Show at Pete’s Pub.