Volunteer Gift Shop Turns 35

The Upson Regional Medical Center Auxiliary will celebrate its gift shop’s 35th Birthday Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.

Though the Auxiliary was founded in 1950, the gift shop was not opened until a bit later. Originally proposed by Ann Ruff in the early 1970s, the Gift Shop came to fruition in 1978 under the leadership of Gail Harper.

Opened by Geraldine Wilson and Louise Shumacher, the first items sold in gift shop were homemade baked goods and flowers grown by Auxiliary members. Before long, many other Auxiliary members took to the cause and sales soared.

With every penny of profit donated to the hospital for the purchase of lifesaving equipment, the Gift Shop continues to make substantial contributions to the hospital. In 2011, donations from the Auxiliary to the hospital tipped over the $1 Million mark, due in large part to the financial success of the Gift Shop.

The generous donations over time add up to support the hospital’s needs. Through the years, Auxiliary donations have purchased more than 200 pieces of lifesaving equipment ranging from wheelchairs to crash carts and nursery isolettes to operating room bronchoscopes.

“The members of the Auxiliary are unsung heroes that support a number of fundraising initiatives that benefit the Hospital – the Gift Shop is a major part of that” said David Castleberry, CEO. “But the Auxiliary members give a lot to our hospital to which you just can’t assign a dollar value. They are exemplary civic leaders, compassionate guides for patients and visitors, and an inspirational piece of our workforce.”

Upson’s Gift Shop operates just like any shop. It has inventory controls and a tight budget. Upson’s Gift Shop is entirely managed by volunteers. Geraldine Wilson managed the shop until the early 1990s, when Sara Kersey took the reins and led the shop until her untimely death in 1998. Kathy Anderson served as manager from 1998-2008 and was succeeded by Pat Weathers. Today, the Gift Shop is managed by a trio of volunteers – Rose Warren, Lynda Rhodes and Pat Druce.

More than 25 volunteers staff the Gift Shop, seven days a week. Just this year, Auxiliary members have logged more than 6,100 hours of service in the Gift Shop, alone.

Volunteering in the Gift Shop or other parts of the Auxiliary is a wonderful way to meet people and give back to the community. Applications to volunteers are available, in the Gift Shop, Front Lobby and online at http://urmc.org/overview. The Gift Shop is open from 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and 1 – 5 p.m. on Sunday.