By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Photo by Rob Varela/Ventura County Star

Thrift store helps support Mary Health of the Sick Convalescent Home

July 9, 2014 Ventura County Star

Hawaiian shirts and ties — and most recently two vintage maps for $3 — are among the unique items David Bartley has found at the Merry Hall Tree Thrift Store in Newbury Park.

"I find some really cool stuff once in awhile," said Bartley, 20.

Bartley discovered the thrift shop years ago through his grandmother, who lives near the Mary Health of the Sick Convalescent Home, where the thrift store sits walking distance away.

"It's pretty cool that it all goes back for a good cause," Bartley said of his purchases over the years.

The thrift store, which turned 39 this year, reaped about $250,000 in sales in 2013, with all proceeds benefiting Mary Health, said Kathy Tamashiro, director of development at the convalescent home.

The nonprofit gives residents — regardless of race, religion or ability to pay — care in their final days. The organization is run by the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick, a Catholic congregation of religious women who are registered nurses.

"Since the 2009 downturn in the economy, the thrift store has experienced a significant growth in the number of donations and shoppers, resulting in a greater number of sales," Tamashiro said.

"Plus, I think people are looking for ways to stretch their dollars and have discovered the high-quality items they can get from the thrift store."

The shop is run by 45 volunteers under the leadership of Carol Smith, whose mother and aunt lived at Mary Health.

"The volunteers are a wonderful group of devoted ladies with beautiful God-given talents that they share," said Smith, of Newbury Park.

Some specialize in jobs that they love, such as bringing in plants that they grow, pricing jewelry and vintage pieces, polishing silver, arranging merchandise and ironing vintage linens.

"We are always amazed at the donations," Smith said.

Donations from the community include a hand-carved German chest with matching table and chairs, a gold emerald and diamond tennis bracelet, a Metropolitan Museum necklace set, antique German Christmas ornaments, an antique violin with pearl inlay and Wedgewood bone china.

"It's a great place to shop because we have a 50 percent off sale of the day, every day," Smith said. "Some days, it is a color of the day, such as any item with red, blue or yellow. Other days, it is a letter, such as D for dishes and dresses."

Lesley Thurling, who started volunteering five months ago, discovered the thrift shop at the urging of a friend.

"I walked in and it called to me," said Thurling, of Simi Valley.

Ginny Palivec, a volunteer for seven years, said she enjoys her duties, from emptying trash to polishing silver.

"I don't like to clean, but I come here and do it," said Palivec, 81, of Westlake Village. "I'm very happy here."

Judy Lazar, the former mayor of Thousand Oaks, has volunteered at the shop for 12 years simply because it's fun.

"You like the people you work with and you see strange things ... like an old camping piece," Lazar said.

"Sometimes we'll put an item out with a sign that says ‘what the heck is that?' and see if the customers know what it is."

Julie Russell discovered the thrift shop when a friend's father was living at Mary Health.

"He's not with us anymore, but I still come by the thrift store to shop," said Russell, of Camarillo. "It's actually relaxing to be here and everyone is very friendly. ... It's all for a good cause, too."

If you go: Merry Hall Tree Thrift Store, 2929 Theresa Drive in Newbury Park, 498-7886, is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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