Three generations of volunteers bring a legacy of impact...and a rare hockey card auction.
For more than 40 years, the MCC Thrift & Gift shop in Elmira has been supporting the work of Mennonite Central Committee through the generous donations of community members and their many volunteers. This important work began in 1978 in a small house on what is now Memorial Avenue in Elmira. With the support of volunteers and their families from area churches working a monthly schedule to staff the shop, the new enterprise was off and running.
One particularly committed volunteer family were Eli and Lauretta Martin and their four children, Lloyd, Eileen, Delphine and Ruth Ann. After retiring in 1974 from more than 30 years working in retail, Eli and Lauretta felt they’d found their perfect volunteering fit at MCC Thrift & Gift. They were so committed to the shop that they continued their volunteer engagement when the shop relocated to 2 Samuel Street where Lauretta eventually became one of the managers. For many years Eli helped with the heavy lifting and moving in the receiving area and was also known as “Mr. Fix-it” around the shop.
Lauretta so loved her work at the shop that when she moved to the nursing home just across the road, she continued to ask questions about the shop and remained keenly interested in it even when other things left her in the last years. She passed away in 2002 leaving a rich legacy of volunteering at the MCC Thrift & Gift shop that lives on through her family. Her daughter Ruth Ann began volunteering after her own children were grown and she, like her mother, liked to keep busy. Her skills in organization and display setting were a great benefit to the shop and she provided relief to the manager during holiday times.
The little shop continued to grow and as a need for more space became apparent, Eli and his four children donated money toward the purchase of the old Stone Crock building that would become the new location for MCC Thrift & Gift on Church Street.
Ruth Ann and Grant Bauman served as project managers for the new location and worked diligently for three months to turn the former restaurant into a well-equipped store. Every day local volunteers would stop in to help with repairs and renovations, and a beautiful show of community spirit and support grew as 65 volunteers assisted in bringing new beauty to an old building. Many of the volunteers were relatives, friends or members of the Bauman’s church. Ruth Ann’s sisters, Delphine and Eileen, helped clean and stock shelves while Eileen’s husband Lawrence constructed and painted signs both indoors and out.
In their new home at 59 Church Street West, MCC Thrift & Gift had more opportunities for Ruth Ann who took over the store displays as she created an ambiance that impressed customers and led to greater success. Ruth Ann’s sisters both volunteered in the new location. Delphine re-stocked housewares and served as a cashier while Eileen priced housewares.
Over the years Grant eventually took over the metal recycling and he and Ruth Ann engaged in a wide variety of volunteer tasks, too numerous to mention. They were instrumental in pricing and displaying seasonal items for the shop, and decorating the exterior of the store, a task they continued to engage in until 2018 when they gave up all seasonal work except Christmas. Their son and daughter-in-law, Brent and Kathy, also volunteered as cashiers and priced toys and clothing. Now the third generation of the Martin family has become engaged in volunteer work with all seven of Grant and Ruth Ann’s grandchildren completing their high school community hours as cashiers and receivers. This family has indeed had a legacy of impact on MCC Thrift & Gift.
Eli, the Martin family patriarch, who lived to the age of 107, spent his final years living at Chartwell Nursing Home across the road from MCC Thrift & Gift, until he passed away in 2012. Each year from 1998-2011 he donated one of his carved model wooden wagons, buggies and harnessed horses to the annual MCC Heifer Sale. His heart for service remained strong through his waning years and he even occasionally spent time at the thrift shop taping puzzles, always keeping his mind busy.
Ruth Ann’s brother, Lloyd, a retired local business man, also volunteered in receiving at the thrift shop, so when he made the move to a retirement home and began to downsize, MCC Thrift & Gift was top of mind. He had many things from his five children who have grown and become very successful, and did not want to throw out the boy’s hockey collection from their childhood in the 60’s. When Lloyd asked his sons about their collection, they suggested he donate it to MCC, and this became the impetus for MCC Thrift & Gift to host a rare hockey card auction on Saturday, March 16, 2019. More info about the auction available here.
MCC Thrift & Gift values the generous donation of time the Martin family has collectively given over many years, and are especially appreciative of their generosity in sharing a valuable collection of hockey cards to support the relief, development and peacebuilding work of MCC. More than 40 years of volunteering with MCC Thrift & Gift has resulted in a legacy of generosity for the Martin family that has affected many. For this, we are deeply grateful!