Family Center Thrift Shop formally opens

Volunteers and supporters of the Chester-Andover Family Center wait patiently for a formal ribbon-cutting./Photos by Cynthia Prairie

The Chester-Andover Family Center’s Thrift Shop officially opened its new doors last Tuesday, Nov. 20 to the cheers of the many volunteers who had spent the last few months readying the building, which in its lifetime had housed three restaurants — Putney Pasta, Azteca and Curtis’ BBQ — before being purchased by the charitable organization earlier this year.

The building, located at 908 VT Rt. 103 S., just past the Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, offers 2,000-square-feet of retail space for the Thrift Shop.

Charmaine Hartman, right, is the second customer at the just opened Family Center Thrift Shop. Family Center treasurer Sherry Willimitus, left, rings up her sweater purchase.

Besides more space, the move offers the added advantage of better visibility, despite the fact that the building is on the outskirts of town, lots of parking — although the lot was overflowing on opening day, and upstairs offices for the staff.

The 27-year-old Family Center also offers a variety of services, such as emergency financial assistance and fuel aid in winter. But it was the space needs of the thrift shop and the food shelf that prompted the move.

The food pantry serves between 70 and 75 area families. And now, with its 900-square-foot, first floor, handicapped accessible location, it can accept Vermont Food Bank donations and patrons can shop for their own food.

After 15 years, the center had outgrown its Depot Street space. Donated merchandise – from clothing to toys — had taken up so much space there was barely room to move, and the food shelf had been on the second floor.

Thrift shop hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Tuesdays and Fridays, 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The Food Shelf is open 1 to 6 p.m. every Thursday. To find out more, to apply for aid or to donate, visit its Web site.

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Filed Under: Business & Personal FinanceCommunity and Arts Life

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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