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Bargain Box offers more than just stuff

Business was booming at the Bargain Box Wednesday at 11 a.m. Some area residents were rummaging through racks of blouses, pants and shoes, while others searched through shelves of books and stacks of bedding.

“We couldn’t do it without people giving usable used goods,” said Kitty Eddins, treasurer of the Demopolis Council of Church Women.

The Bargain Box was founded in 1983, with much credit to Miss Libba George and Ernestine and Jim Rogers, Eddins said.

The Council of Church Women now takes full responsibility for the business. Formed by women from the First Baptist Church of Demopolis, the First United Methodist Church of Demopolis and Trinity Episcopal Church of Demopolis, women from churches throughout the area now volunteer their time to the organization.

Eddins said most of the volunteers at the Bargain Box are retired Demopolis residents, but they are always looking for younger ladies to help out.

The Bargain Box is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon, and Eddins said the business is always nonstop.

“If we were open longer hours, it would be busy then, too,” she said.

When area residents come to the Bargain Box, they are guaranteed to find a deal. Eddins said the prices vary slightly each day, but a customer can usually spend less than $5 for four or five items.

While the Bargain Box has only been around for 22 years, it is well known for its unmatched service to the community. It is a non-profit organization that gives much of its earnings back to the community.

Last year, the Council of Church Women, in conjunction with the Bargain Box, gave seven deserving area high school seniors $5,000 college scholarships. Eddins said the organizations gives scholarships every year, and since the program began they have given nearly $150,000 to area seniors.

Last year was the first time they gave a scholarship to a home-schooled student, but Eddins said they want non-traditional students to have the same opportunities as Demopolis High School or West Alabama Prep students.

A committee from the Council of Church Women selects the scholarship recipients based on grades, income and overall character.

The Council of Church Women and the Bargain Box also provide emergency aid to area residents who are caught in a financial bind. Eddins said the funds may be given for medical, housing or transportation emergencies, and that to receive help, one must submit an application.

“It is on a one-time, emergency basis,” Eddins said, “for unusual circumstances.”

Throughout the year, the Bargain Box donates to other area relief organizations such as Harriet’s House, Habitat for Humanity and Project Merry Christmas.

“We boxed up lots of good summer stuff for the Katrina victims,” Eddins said. They also purchased nearly $2,000 worth of toiletries and other necessities for the hurricane victims, she said.

Throughout its history, the Bargain Box has had four locations. It started on Strawberry Street, and later moved to its second location that was completely destroyed by fire. After outgrowing its third location, the Council of Church Women bought its current location on Washington Avenue.

The facility is a large historic cotton warehouse made entirely of brick. Eddins said the large building is necessary to hold the large number of donations the Bargain Box receives each week.

“Our drop box is never empty, Eddins said, “and we never stop taking donations.”