By Dorothy Dillon
It was around 1974 at the monthly meeting of the United Methodist Women (UMW) where they were discussing local missions, saying “What can we do to provide a service to Blanco and, at the same time, make money for UMW’s Local Missions?” Bonnie Ashley said, ”Blanco needs a resale shop, why don’t we start one? Bonnie had planted the seed and thrown out the challenge; the following women took up that challenge: Alexa Beckman, Pearl Byars, Clara Mae Charles, Eunice Gloor, Lois Murphy, Bobbie Page, Ruby (Byars) Poenish, Rena Rutledge, Jessie Walker, Pearl Woods (Greebon), and all the other ladies whose names 93-year-old Perlie Greebon cannot remember.
The discussion then turned to where to put it. Clara Mae Charles said, “You can use my empty garage.” That building was later remodeled into a small home, with its present address being 810 Hwy. 281 North.
The next Sunday they made an announcement at church: “Anyone who has good, used clothing or other items that they would like to donate to the UMW’s new thrift shop, Thee Thrift Shop, please bring those donations to the church or to Clara Mae Charles’ house.”
Although the UMW’s monthly meeting minutes have not been located, this 1986 Annual Report to the Southwest Texas Methodist Conference reveals just how successful Thee Thrift Shop had become in the ten-plus years.
Conference report - November 13, 1986 -
The United Methodist Women has 29 active members, and increase of three from last year. We also have eight members on our rolls who, because of health or age, are unable to attend or take any part in our activities.
Our pledge to missions through the national organization was $225.00 for 1986. It has been increased to $300.00 for 1987. This is paid through our individual pledges. We have also paid more than $200.00 to other District and Conference projects; Prayer and Self Denial, for a total of $714.30; Centennial Fund, $26.00; and McCurdy School, $110.00. We also paid from our treasury $350.58 for local and church projects.
We also sponsor Thee Thrift Shop and, with the profits from that project, we gave $600.00 to the local EMS, $300.00 to the Volunteer Fire Department, $598.31 to the local church for various church activities, $183.95 to local needy families, $70.00 tot he the McCurdy School, $50.00 to the Child Welfare Board, and $75.00 to the Family Crisis Center, for a total of $1877.26.
We sponsor a monthly birthday party for residents of the Mill Nursing Home and at Christmas time, we have a carol-sing for both nursing homes, complete with Santa and a gift for each resident.
We meet monthly, with a program emphasizing awareness of our responsibilities as Christian women and a short devotional at each meeting. We sponsor a prayer chain, which offers concentrated prayer for persons in times of illness or need.
We strive in all our activities to contribute to the spiritual growth of our members and to support and uphold the work of our church.
So successful was Thee Thrift Shop that they quickly outgrew Clara Mae’s garage. Their next move was to 217 Elm Street (on west side of Mill Nursing Home) which they also quickly outgrew. Learning that the larger building just south of that location was available, their next move was to 215 Elm Street where they remained until that building was put up for sale. Their next move was to 620 Pecan Street which they rented from The Blanco National Bank (also the property that The Good Samaritan Center later purchased and where it remains today.)
Because most of the UMW members were now growing older and younger women were working full-time, it became more difficult to find volunteers to do the work required at Thee Thrift Shop, so they decided to contact the Ministerial Fellowship, now known as The Ministerial Alliance, suggesting that all the churches in Blanco should participate in this endeavor.