The following is an excerpt from the 2011 Annual Report.
Facilitating a circle of giving
The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary is an organization both supported and motivated by donations. Among the medical center’s largest monetary contributors, the now 105-year-old Auxiliary is able to give so much because of the generosity it receives from the
community and its 135 members.
Auxiliary members knit hats and mittens for school children in need and contribute to the Randolph Area Food Shelf and Salvation Army. They help area youth and other area residents pursue health care careers or advance their careers through scholarships. They also volunteer at the Thrift Shop.
A staple in the community for 55 years, the Thrift Shop on the surface is a place to buy bargain-priced wears. Seemingly immune to any stereotypes the Thrift Shop is a source of pride for its shoppers, a daily gathering place for some and a resource to many truly in need.
“Terrible times have fallen upon us, and I just don’t know what to do,” Thrift Shop Manager Dianne Elias often hears. “When people are in true need, they know they can come to us.”
The Thrift Shop is also the main source of revenue for the Auxiliary’s generosity, and it is the community’s place to recycle good quality, unwanted clothes, and small household items, like kitchen ware and linens. The community’s generosity in giving to the Thrift Shop is evident in the piles of boxes and bags that fill the business’ receiving dock each day, but a single event in 2011 highlighted that generosity like no other, and that was
Tropical Storm Irene.
Many families lost everything, and Vermonters sprang into action.
“Every single person wanted to help,” recalls Dianne, “but didn’t know how to help, so they cleaned out their closets.”
The Thrift Shop was inundated.
“The generosity of the Vermont people was literally overwhelming,” says Auxiliary President David Peirce.
The dock overflowed. Donations filled all available storage space at the store and neighboring hospital. David counted the cars pulling up – 12 an hour, or one every five minutes. It went on for weeks. Eventually on a chilly October weekend two months after the flood, the Auxiliary held a giveaway and in the continued spirit of community, everyone pitched in.
The Thrift Shop’s 40 volunteers sorted the donations into men’s, women’s, pants, shirts, etc. Randolph Union High School Encore Theater Co. students worked with advisor Brian Rainville to carry the clothes from storage to tables set up under a tent. Their volunteer work was in thanks for the many costumes the Thrift Shop provides to the school.
Students from Tom Harty’s public safety and criminal justice class at Randolph Technical Career Center guarded the clothing overnight in below-freezing temperatures for the sale the next morning. In typical grateful fashion, the Auxiliary thanked them with a donation to their program.
The sale was scheduled to last two days: Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30, but by 4 p.m. Saturday nearly everything was gone.
Of course, the donations kept coming in and plenty of goods along with vouchers for free items were offered to families rebuilding after Irene. Fire victims and others in need also often receive free goods.
For paying customers, their spending at the Thrift Shop ultimately goes to the medical center and its patients. In 2011, the Auxiliary supported Gifford’s Affordable Care Program, providing free and affordable care to patients in need. It fulfilled departments’ “Wish List” requests, bringing added equipment to patients utilizing the lab, Pediatrics, the Emergency Department, Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation programs, the Bethel and White River Junction health centers and more.
Volunteers gave more than 4,500 hours in 2011 at the Thrift Shop to make that giving possible. Auxiliary board members also give significant time to the non-profit volunteer-run organization.
The reasons why they do this are diverse, but all come down to one main motivation: supporting their community and their community hospital.