By THOMAS PETROCCIONE
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — The Clothes Less Traveled thrift store seeks to provide a place where people can buy previously used household items and clothing so proceeds can go to various local charities and provide grants for nonprofit organizations.
This mission, however, could never be achieved without the dedication and heart of its many volunteers.
“Since we are 25,000 square feet, our overhead would be extremely high without our volunteers,” said Ann Walker, volunteer coordinator for Clothes Less Traveled.
“Our costs are kept way down so we are able to give a lot of money to other organizations that are also nonprofit.”
The store has 150 scheduled volunteers and an additional 85 pop-in helpers. There are also several hundred students who have volunteered over the years to earn Beta Club hours or do service projects for school credit. A commitment of three and a half hours per month is requested of scheduled helpers but many work as many as 20 hours per week, Walker said.
“I was an empty nester and looking for something to fill my days,” said Jane Higgins, a current volunteer. “My friend asked me to come along and help volunteer and I really enjoyed it.”
Higgins works in the fitting rooms, but there are many activities that the volunteers can participate in. There is a group that tests donated appliances to see if they can fix them. Some sort through the donated books and clothing and others price furniture or work as cashiers. Not all the volunteers work in the store in Peachtree City. Some volunteers organize clothing or furniture drives. Others assist with a special event or project.
It is not all work and no play at Clothes Less Traveled. The volunteer break room is always stocked with snacks and drinks. Often there is a surprise, such as TCBY frozen yogurt or a sheet cake. A large sign, “We love our volunteers” is on the bulletin board. The atmosphere among the volunteers is inviting and friendly.
“It has been a wonderful place to work, wonderful people and great perks,” said Higgins. “I definitely plan to continue working here for a long time.”
The volunteers enjoy monthly and birthday coupons for store credit. The Clothes Less Traveled holds an annual appreciation dinner for its volunteers. Awards including the “Above and Beyond Recognition Award” are given at the event. The winner of this honor gets to name the charity (among a list of local organizations) that will receive $2,000 from the Clothes Less Traveled. High school student volunteers are eligible for merit-based college scholarships. Clothes Less Traveled annually grants up to $25,000 in scholarships.
To volunteer, click here. Walker, the volunteer coordinator, said she contacts everyone who fills out the volunteer form and schedules them for an orientation.
“I could never even give you a correct adjective to describe how grateful I am for them,” said Walker. “They are amazing, hard-working, great men, women and families.”