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New store partners high school students with senior citizens

The old Chinese proverb, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand," best describes the philosophy behind the newest thrift store in Sandpoint, 2nds Anyone? The store, located on the corner of Pine and Boyer, operated by students from Lake Pend Oreille Alternative High School and senior citizens, held its grand opening Friday, October 3.

Colleen Ross, the director of the thrift store project, along with Randy Wilhelm, Linda Spade, Rick Dalessio, Mona Stafford and other staff members at LPO, believes in enriching the lives of students by providing them with hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to give back to their community. The thrift store will enable students to receive frontline, on the job training in purchasing, merchandising, landscaping, construction, maintenance, accounting, bookkeeping, janitorial and people skills while meeting the needs of the community.

What sets this store apart from other businesses is its unique partnership with the Senior Citizen Center. Research shows that teenagers and senior citizens, as a group, feel like they are not valued in their community. The seniors, who ran a thrift store for years, will mentor the students.

The thrift store is a workforce-training center, said Colleen Ross, and believes in recycling. Need a new pair of shoes? I bought a slightly used pair of super comfortable Nikes for $2. My daughter, DaNae, wants to become a seamstress. She purchased a fully functioning sewing machine, complete with table and bags of recycled clothing, for $15. The store has furniture (a nice couch costs $10), dishes, shoes, a vast assortment of clothes, jewelry, and linens, all at reasonable prices. In addition, they feature daily specials in the store, and frequently run dollar bag sales on Saturdays.

Lyn Walters, the store manager, has high hopes for the thrift store.

"We want to get things in and get things out. If somebody wants a sofa and doesn’t care if it’s a little faded, this is the place."

The store accepts donations during working hours, Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 5:30 pm and on Saturdays from noon to 4 pm. They can’t take mattresses, exercise equipment, older televisions, computers or printers over three years old, broken or dirty appliances or baby car seats. For big donations, like a bed or sofa, please call first to make sure the store can accommodate it. Please do not leave items on the porch.

"We don’t want things that aren’t going to move," Lynn said. "If you would not give it to a friend or relative, we probably can’t sell it, so please don’t bring it here."

The store originated with the help of a grant from Panhandle Alliance for Education. The store has six months to become fully self-supporting. Lynn said that after expenses have been paid, proceeds will provide local scholarships, buy materials and supplies for LPO and for the Senior Citizen Center. The store gives back to the community by providing bargain-shopping opportunities of slightly used merchandise.

"The community has been really supportive," Lyn said. "Coldwater Creek donated the hangers and stands, and we already have a full shop."

In fact, the store already needs a storage unit. Anyone interested in donating some space please call Colleen Ross at 265-9190 or 610-1474.

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Desire Aguirre Desire Aguirre lives in Sandpoint with her daughter, DaNae, and numerous pets. An LCSC student, she plans on graduating May, 2009, with a bachelors in communication. Her favorite sport is riding her horse, Splash-of-Paint, into the wilderness with Cholo, her son's faithful dog.

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