Wanted: People to do some heavy lifting for charity
St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary is having trouble finding volunteers physically able to work at its thrift shop.
Volunteers’ age is causing the shortage, co-manager Mary Ann Conyers said.
“Everyone is getting older; some are in their 90s,” Conyers said. “Some are sick right now, and you really notice when one person isn’t there.”
Retired from 37 years at Boeing, Orville Pfeiffer has volunteered for the past two years because he wants to stay active. Pfeiffer and volunteer Walter Hein are the only ones who can really lift things.
“We carry stuff in and carry stuff out,” Hein said. “Everyone in the core group of volunteers is at least in their 70s.”
Pfeiffer said some heavier bags of cloths could approach 70 and 80 pounds.
“We all do our thing,” Pfeiffer said. “Walter and I are basically the labor guys, but we don’t holler about it too loud. We’re a big family. It’s a great bunch of people. We have a ball. We make good coffee. That’s why people keep coming back.”
Hein said volunteers were doing all that they could to keep up with their duties right now.
“It keeps me off the street,” Pfeiffer said. “I like being active. Without the five to eight of us that volunteer about 20 to 25 hours per week, this whole thing wouldn’t happen.”
Pfeiffer said the auxiliary could benefit from more volunteers who can safely lift the heavy donations.
“I think we need people who maybe just retired and are looking for something to do,” Hein said, “people with extra time on their hands.”
Younger people volunteer on weekends, but jobs, family, and other responsibilities make it difficult during the week.
“We’re volunteers; we don’t get paid, but I don’t know if that is part of the problem, too,” Conyers said. “The hospital really depends on us. We helped with the clinic and living center renovation, and pledged $125,000 over the next five years to the hospital.”
The auxiliary needs help restocking and organizing items Mondays and Tuesdays as well as keeping the store open Fridays and Saturdays.
Seven regular volunteers each put in about 27 hours a week, with other volunteers filling in.
Along with running the cash register, volunteer jobs include sorting, cleaning, organizing, arranging, and repairing donations.
“We appreciate all the help that is given to us,” Conyers said, “but we were talking, and if we don’t get some help from some younger folks, we’re not going to be open in the next five years.
“We’d like to get some high school students in here to help. I don’t think we have ever made that volunteering available before, but we are getting so desperate that we’d like to try.”