The Bargain Box turns used items into gifts

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“We’ve been so busy. Things go out as fast as they come in,” said Louise Leet, a long-time volunteer with the Demopolis Bargain Box, under the direction of the Christian Women’s League.

During the holidays, things get busier than the average morning when at least 200 people peruse the donated items found in the facility located in the Culpepper Warehouse on Washington Street and find real bargains on a variety of items a household might need.

The Bargain Box started over 25 years ago in a one-room area in Demopolis that later relocated to a building across from Demopolis High School. Then, the organization bought the building where it is now open with about 40 volunteers, who take turns running the non-profit store every morning, six days a week, until about noon.

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Citizens in the county and even outside the county keep the building well stocked with used articles of clothing, electronics, books, toys, office equipment, furniture, sports equipment, kitchen items and many other objects.

“We accept anything,” Leet said, explaining how the volunteers keep seasonal things organized and packed away when the season is over. She said businesses and individuals alike support what the Bargain Box provides the community.

With seasonal items, it isn’t unusual for a store to bring leftover merchandise to the volunteer organization to sell at a great discount during next year’s season. When a store closes, local owners bring the Bargain Box items they will no longer need as well. When families clean out closets or get organized at home, those households also bring items to the Bargain Box they no longer need or want.

“We’re really in need of winter coats and jackets right now,” Leet said.

In fact, anything winter-related would be greatly appreciated, according to Bill Godwin, who is a Wednesday morning volunteer at the Bargain Box.

“We have a good men’s department that will outfit somebody from the skin out,” he said.

Even the bags the charity organization uses is donated by the community.

“If we happen to need extra bags,” Godwin said, “I’ll go to Wal-Mart and (store manager) John Whitehead will ask me how many I need.”

In addition to having items to sell the general population at next-to-nothing prices, the volunteers open their doors to Department of Human Resource clients with great needs at no cost at all. The volunteers also open their doors to those who have lost belongings due to fire at their homes.

With the money the organization receives, the members sponsor up to seven scholarships every year that range from $5,000 to $7,000 per student.

Leet said that is a project near and dear to her heart. She said the students selected are Marengo County students who are recommended by the school counselor, and the scholarships are based mostly on need rather than academics, athletics or some of the more usual scholarship criteria.

Anyone who would like to donate items to the Bargain Box may come to the site while volunteers are present or make use of the convenient chute next to the door to deposit articles after hours or on weekends. For more information, contact any of the volunteers at 289-9399.