Church’s 35th anniversary luncheon honors decades of Catholic Thrift Store service

ST. GEORGE — More than 180 dedicated volunteers of the Catholic Thrift Store were honored Monday during a 35th anniversary luncheon hosted by the St. George Courtyard by Marriott. Volunteers have kept the store in operation – without interruption – since its opening on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1981.

35th Anniversary Luncheon for Catholic Thrift Store volunteers, Courtyard by Marriott, St. George, Utah, Mar. 21, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
35th Anniversary Luncheon for Catholic Thrift Store volunteers, Courtyard by Marriott, St. George, Utah, Mar. 21, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Hundreds attended the luncheon to honor the volunteers, many of whom have served at the Catholic Thrift Store for decades.

While the honorary luncheon is an annual event, this year’s celebration was particularly significant because of the 34 years of experiences and history that came before it.

Courtyard by Marriott in St. Goerge hosting 35th Anniversary Luncheon for Catholic Thrift Store volunteers, St. George, Utah, Mar. 21, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Courtyard by Marriott in St. George hosting 35th Anniversary Luncheon for Catholic Thrift Store volunteers, St. George, Utah, Mar. 21, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Angie Mittleberger, co-founder of the Catholic Thrift Store, opened the event by heralding the dedication of the volunteers.

“For over 35 years, from the first day we opened until today, it’s all of you who have kept the thrift shop going, and not just for us, but to help the whole community,” Mittleberger said.

Steve Cross, former general manager and long-time volunteer with the Catholic Thrift Store, also reflected upon the success that the thrift store has enjoyed over the years. Cross, a 25-year volunteer himself, attributes that success to the business model adopted decades ago, which is:

  • Good people donating items at no cost
  • Making those items available to the public at affordable prices
  • Having a workforce comprised of dedicated volunteers
Catholic Thrift Store sole surviving founder Angie Mittleberger speaks at 35th Anniversary Luncheon for Catholic Thrift Store volunteers, Courtyard by Marriott, St. George, Utah, Mar. 21, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Catholic Thrift Store sole surviving founder Angie Mittleberger speaks at the 35th Anniversary Luncheon for thrift store volunteers, Courtyard by Marriott, St. George, Utah, Mar. 21, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“It’s the volunteers that make us so successful,” Cross said. “People coming into contact with our volunteers can feel the goodness in them.”

The Catholic Thrift Store donates to hundreds of charities throughout the county and beyond. That’s in addition to all of the individual cases they handle each year.

“We fit in this community because of the work that we do,”   Jerry Trojan, present Catholic Thrift Store general manager said. “We coordinate with so many charitable organizations in this community, which is what we are all about.”

St. George Mayor Jon Pike, who was also in attendance, paid tribute to hundreds of thrift store volunteers, past and present, for being a part of what makes St. George what it is today.

“It’s volunteerism that has built this community, and continues to support this community,” Pike said. “It’s people like you at the heart of it; that’s what makes the difference”. 

It all started in 1981 with an idea.

After a Catholic Women’s Group meeting, a handful of women got together and decided that opening a thrift shop would be a great way to raise money for the church.

Soon after, the Catholic Thrift Shop opened in a tiny, 2-room building the founders rented for $200 per month. It was a precarious beginning and many didn’t believe the shop would ever make it.

“We almost closed after the first month,” Mittleberger said. “But thankfully Elma Schnaitter, one of our original volunteers, paid the second month’s rent – or we may have never made it at all.”

Now, 35 years later, the Catholic Thrift Store is well-known and respected throughout the community, continuing the legacy of giving by taking on several hundred individual cases and numerous charity organizations every year.

“We are continuing to serve those in need,” Mittleberger said.

And yet it all started with a small group of women, a 2-room building, and an idea that most said would never work.

The rest is history.

The Catholic Thrift Store is located at 157 North 200 West (Tel: 435-673-1029). Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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