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Volunteers help thrift shop thrive

Pennywise aids food bank and other charities

VOLUNTEER Anne Vandrie at Pennywise Thrift Shop. (Philip Alves/Vaughan Today)

“Good morning,” Anne Vandrie says to someone who’s just walked into Pennywise Thrift Shop on a Monday morning.

“Customers are coming in,” she says before turning her attention back to the visitor. “Good morning. Wonderful. Thank you very much.”

That’s the way it is at Pennywise, Vandrie says. People are always friendly when they’re at the Woodbridge institution.

Even so, she says, nowhere near enough people know about the thrift shop and the good work it’s done for the past 27 years.

“There are so many new people coming in and saying, ‘We never knew you were here’,” she says. “They’re just passing here by the door, they’ll go to the doctor’s office or the dentist and then they look in and, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were here’.”

Located in Market Lane on the top floor of building 1 at 140 Woodbridge Ave., Pennywise Thrift Shop is a volunteer-run charitable organization that collects donations to sell at deeply discounted prices.

The money raised helps support the Yellow Brick House women’s shelter, the Sandgate Women’s Shelter, the Porter Place Men’s Shelter and the Vaughan Food Bank.

“The money that we’re making, we’re paying the rent at the food bank,” Vandrie says. “And then whatever is left over, besides the Yellow Brick House and (the rest), everything goes to the food bank.

“And the Boy Scouts get something and a little donation to the Wallace House because they do a good job, too.”

Pennywise has more to give some years than others. Last year was not so good, Vandrie says.

“But we have been up to $44,000 a year,” she says. “So, hey, that means something if you pay $4 for a pair of jeans and $5 for a coat or a jacket.”

More than just clothing, Pennywise also sells books, movies, toys and games, among other things.

Whatever donations in good condition Pennywise receives that can’t be sold are sent to Yellow Brick, Sandgate and Porter Place shelters, or are distributed to the homeless in Toronto, she says. Some even find its way to Africa.

“I got a lady in on Saturday,” Vandrie says. “She hadn’t been here all winter and I wondered what happened but she had been in Ghana.

“She picked up three big boxes full of shoes — I let them go for lower prices — and she sent them to Ghana,” she adds. “So hey, you have to help people. That’s what we’re here for.”

Now 79, Vandrie has been a volunteer at Pennywise for nearly two decades, she says.

“I have Anne working for me, she’s 82,” she says. “We’re all creeping up there. I’ve been doing this for 18 years. We have been working like busy beavers.”

Vandrie, a retiree and a widow, says she does it partly because she’s got the time, partly because she enjoys the people and has a good time at the thrift shop.

“What the heck is the use sitting at home doing nothing if you can help people down here?” she says. “And it’s fun. You meet such nice people and you have a laugh here and there. It’s great.”

Vaughan Today
In print: May 8, 2009, page 9
Online: May 13, 2009 [link]