The WestCare Health System offers a plethora of volunteer opportunities to the region. Of those, the Harris Regional Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop, known by locals as the “HA”, has experienced tremendous success. This is in spite of their move from the downtown Sylva location, to a more ambiguous one on Skyland Drive. Word must get around, considering on any given business day, cars flood the parking lot. With many people looking to cut back on personal spending, thrift stores offer a money-saving alternative.
The benefits are two-fold. First of all, people in the area save money by avoiding expensive retail stores. But the prime advantage is something that many people may not realize. Every dime raised by the store goes directly to the hospital to buy equipment, but not for toilet paper or rubber gloves. Carol Douglas, the volunteer coordinator, stresses that the money goes exclusively toward life saving equipment like ventilators. That fact alone shows what a vital part of the community the store actually is.
The benefits of having a thrift store that raises money for the hospital comes at a price. That price happens to be the time donated by others. Store operations rely heavily on volunteers from the community. According to Douglas, 25-30 volunteers are currently helping the cause. She explains, “Most of our volunteers are just people from the community.”
When asked about WCU’s involvement in the thrift shop she says, “Not very many students volunteer. Many come to the store to shop, and have inquired about volunteering, but most of the help comes from local people.”
The thrift store, like many others, lack volunteers especially this time of year when much of the school body is out of town. All too often members of the community are very willing to donate used items, however getting people to donate personal time is a bigger challenge. Douglas notes that the hospital’s thrift store is certainly in the need of volunteers.
With the dependable help they have received, much has been accomplished. Revenues from the thrift shop have funded the purchase of the property for the child care center in its entirety. Another year, money raised was allotted to the purchasing of a new ambulance. On average, the store raises $90,000 to $120,000 a year for the hospital.
Typically, applicants are asked to commit to 2 hours every week, and hours can be flexible. Volunteers must be able to perform light work, such as lifting boxes and moving items around. Baggers and cashiers are also in demand. No training is required.
To reach the shop, take Hwy. 107 into Sylva, and follow US 23 Business to the traffic light between McDonald’s and BP Station. Turn left onto Skyland Drive. Hospital Auxiliary is the building on the left before you reach Hospital Road.
Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 9am to 3pm and Saturday from 8:30am to 1pm. Volunteers work flexible schedules Monday through Saturday.
To volunteer, contact Carol Douglas at 828-586-7405 or email at email@example.com.