While Helen Morris mans the checkout counter at the Garner Area Ministries thrift shop, Ray and Mary Capps help low income clients pick out food in its food pantry.
You may catch Warren Shaw helping to gather the food and load it into their clients’ cars.
Joyce Cooper and and Topsy Coleman can be found in the back, pricing clothing for the thrift store.
They all have something in common, aside from the fact that they are Garner residents.
They are all octogenarians, or a person whose age is in their 80s, and they volunteer every week at Garner Area Ministries.
“I enjoy it,” Topsy Coleman, 88, said. “I’m retired, by myself and I enjoy working and being with people. And I don’t mind the work.”
Mary Capps, 82, said the same. Capps has been helping since 1981 when Garner Area Ministries first got started in the basement of Aversboro Baptist. She and others wanted to give back to people who were homeless and couldn’t afford food, especially during the holidays. Capps said she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“I enjoy just meeting people and helping people,” Mary Capps said.
“The young crowd, they don’t have time. I had time. I worked climbing a 14-foot ladder all day rolling up and down the building, but I still had time go there and do that at night.”
She said she thinks it is important for the younger generation to start giving back.
Her husband Ray Capps also volunteers. He said staying at home wasn’t really his thing.
“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” her husband, Ray Capps, added. “If you sit in that rocking chair long enough, you won’t be able to get up out of it. You have to keep your body moving.”
Morris, who works the checkout counter, starting volunteering in 1998. She said she was encouraged by a coworker to come and volunteer.
While some have helped out for years, others are newer volunteers, like 85-year-old Shirley Heckman.
“I was tired of sitting at home and twiddling my thumbs,” Heckman said. “I like everything. Mostly the folks. It’s an important institution for our community because we really do help a lot of people.
Heckman said she used to come to Garner Area Ministries to shop in the thrift store.
“I love everything about it,” Heckman said. “I just wish I could stay longer.”
Of the some 68 volunteers that give their time to Garner Area Ministries, about 10 are octogenarians. Garner Area Ministries had recently been burglarized for $4,700.
But the volunteer crew were still hard and work with smiles on their faces.
Susan Emanuel, a counselor for Garner Area Ministries, says she enjoys working with the older volunteers.
“The work ethics are excellent,” she said. “They don’t miss time. Their people skills are great. The clients love them. They are committed and we can truly count on them.”