It’s Christmastime at the Key on Central

Gently used trees and wreaths are given second life at the Key on Central second-hand store, bringing help to women who have gone through hard times.

The store is run by the Domestic and Sexual Assault Outreach Center, and all profits from Christmas items and other items go to the shelter for victims of domestic and sexual abuse, said store manager Pat McAvoy.

Since the first of October, volunteers have spearheaded the annual effort to transform the secondhand store into a top-rate Christmas shop with decorations of all types.

“We have everything ranging from the decorated Christmas trees to towels and placemats,” McAvoy said. “I believe there’s a set of dishes. All kinds of Christmas figurines. Just everything Christmas.”

“It’s all secondhand, and it’s at secondhand prices,” she said.

Not everything in the store is secondhand, though everything is donated.

“We do have a lot of things that are brand new,” said volunteer Joan Tibbitts. “We always do every year, but it seemed like this year there were more.”

The Christmas store used to be separate from the regular store, but they have been put together in recent years. This allows the Christmas items to go on sale earlier.

“We sold about $700 by Nov. 1, and usually it didn’t open until Nov. 1,” Tibbitts said.

Tibbitts and Marti Doyle have been helping organize the store for about five years. They’re helped by three other volunteers, some of whom take the wreaths home and return them decoraed.

The donated trees are all decorated by volunteers, too, she said, and sold that way.

“Here it costs $30 to $50 for a decorated tree, depending on the size,” she said. “You can’t even buy the ornaments for that.”

Tibbitts donated one of the larger trees. Half the lights on it quit working, she said, so she brought it to the store for volunteers to fix and sell.

Beth Schnurr was busy fluffing the limbs on that tree and putting up ornaments. She’s been volunteering for about two years.

“It just goes for a good cause, for the women and children,” Schnurr said. “It’s a good way for people to buy things.”

She hasn’t done much shopping yet herself, though.

“I haven’t had the time,” she said.

D/SAOC is feeling the financial crunch like other agencies these days, McAvoy said. Other than the annual cake auction and the store profits, the center is dependent on donations and grants to keep operating.

“And grants aren’t as big as they used to be. The government’s cutting everything,” McAvoy said. “They’re cutting food stamps, they’re cutting welfare, they’re cutting Social Security, they’re cutting everything.”

Donated items can be brought to the Key at the side door on 11th Street. McAvoy said they accept Christmas items year-round and keep them in storage until this time of year.

“Halloween items are going into storage right now,” she said. “We have Fourth of July, Easter, it’s all going into storage.”

Not all the Christmas stuff has been brought out just yet.

“We haven’t put out our Christmas attire yet. We have a lot of the Christmas sweaters and the shirts and stuff,” McAvoy said. “We save everything, because a lot of people buy them for the ugly sweater contests that go on everywhere.”