Randall Donner
Randall Donner, Communications Senior Professional

Volunteer-Run Store Has 63-Year History Supporting Mosaic

On Thursday mornings around 9:30, you’ll often see a line of people on the sidewalk outside the Bargain Box in Beatrice, Nebraska. They line up, because Thursday is the first day of the week the thrift store is open, and it’s the best day to check out what’s new on the shelves and clothing racks. 

Those treasures may include collectible McCoy pottery or a Coach handbag or any other variety of items donated by members of the community. There are household goods, clothing, shoes, electronics, books, childrens’ items and more. Items range in price from around 10 cents to around $20.

Located on one of the main downtown streets in the small community, The Bargain Box has been operating for 63 years—though not always in this location. It started as a way for a local group of volunteers to help support Mosaic in the community. In 1961, Mosaic in Beatrice was known as Martin Luther Home, and it was a residential school for children with disabilities. For that reason, the women who started the Bargain Box called themselves the Children’s Guild. 

The store is still totally operated by volunteers—there are no paid staff. Guild President, Edie Ray, said some volunteers give 500 hours a year or more. Last year, the group as a whole logged 18,413 hours. They do everything from working the check-out counter to displaying the merchandise to sorting, cleaning and laundering sellable items that come in.

“We now have 53 volunteers,” she said. “We need them to maintain the store the way we do; that way no one is overburdened with work, unless they choose to. Every week they’re down there working hours and hours. That’s what they want to do.”

In each of the last two years, the Bargain Box volunteers have raised $90,000 for Mosaic in Beatrice. That annual figure has grown quite a bit over the years, and there’s no doubt the Children’s Guild has easily passed the $1 million mark in cumulative gifts. That’s a lot of nickels, dimes and dollar bills changing hands in the store.

“It is rewarding knowing that you’re helping contribute to Mosaic where the people need all the help we can give them,” Edie said.

But there’s clearly more. Through working together for a common purpose, the women have created a community. They’ve also helped others find a community. Edie noted that the regular customers sometimes come in just to socialize with one another. 

Mosaic has four values we strive for: Belonging, Connection, Faithfulness and Grit. With its 63-year history of engaging the community, the Bargain Box shows how those values come to life, even in Mosaic volunteers.

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