HILLTOWN — It gets bigger every year. This time it hit a new record.
The over $1 million Care & Share Thrift Shoppes donated to the Mennonite Central Committee from money raised at the stores in 2019 appears to be the first time any independent, non-profit thrift store anywhere has hit that amount within a calendar year, Care & Share Executive Director Sarah Bergin announced Jan. 12 at the annual Super Star Breakfast honoring volunteers who put in more than 300 hours last year at the shops.
"You are a dedicated group of individuals who are here to serve and to help others," Bergin said. "This would not be possible without you, so thank you very, very much."
Volunteers put in a total of more than 109,000 hours at the stores, Care & Share information said. The 93 "super stars" each put in 300 or more hours, including Nancy Mininger and Elaine Clemmer who each topped 1,100 hours; Jean Campbell at more than 1,200 hours; Nancy Greene, Amber Wismer and Ginny Mitchell with more than 1,300 hours each; and Matt Krebs at over 1,400 hours.
Care & Share, located in the Souderton Shopping Center at Route 113 and Bethlehem Pike in Hilltown, includes clothing, furniture, variety, book and outlet shops at which items that have been donated are sold.
"It is supporting MCC, first and foremost. That said, we also give a lot back to the community," Care & Share Board Chair Chris Yothers said. "As you all know, the people that come into the stores, this is really their means of getting by and making do, so what we do here also goes out to the community."
More than 100 thrift shops in Canada and the U.S. combined contributed nearly $15 million to MCC during its last fiscal year, MCC East Coast Assistant Executive Director Ken Sensenig said.
"After individuals and church contributions, the thrift shops are the biggest river of funds coming in for MCC to be able to serve in the name of Christ," he said.
Examples given of the work done by MCC in more than 50 countries around the world included recent shipments of blankets and canned meat to Puerto Rico, peace building work in Philadelphia prisons and assistance to farmers in Burkina Faso.
"Thank you for participating in the global work of the church," Sensenig told the volunteers.
He also noted a local connection to MCC's early days.
Clayton Kratz, a member of Blooming Glen Mennonite Church, was one of three men sent by MCC to Russia in 1920 to assess the situation there during the Russian revolution, Sensenig said.
"He went to Russia and he never came back. To this day, we do not know what happened to Clayton Kratz," Sensenig said.
The breakfast also included a Founder's Award presentation to Dave Friesen, a former Care & Share board member who was on the board for nine years and chaired the group for six years.
Friesen and his wife, Esther, continue to be Care & Share volunteers, Yothers said.
Friesen said his parents, assisted by MCC, migrated from Russia to Canada in 1924.
"Our story began with MCC and ended with MCC so we're very grateful for MCC and for the blessing that God has given to so many people through MCC," Friesen said.
Along with presenting the Founder's Award to Friesen, a $25,000 donation was made to MCC, Yothers said.
As has been done in previous years, a donation of $100 was also made to MCC for each of the super star volunteers, Care & Share Volunteer Manager Suzanne Kratz said.
"The dedication and the heart and the love that you have for this community and for the mission of MCC blows my mind," she told the volunteers.
"I don't know if you can hear it enough," Kratz said. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you again. It's incredible what you do."
Since opening in 1975, Care & Share has donated more than $19 million to MCC, a Care & Share release said.