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‘It puts you in the spirit’

Volunteers bring Christmas to life at The Key on Central

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Jo Shelly, left, Joan Tibbitts and Anne Kersten, volunteers at the Christmas store inside The Key on Central, each hold their favorite version of a Santa Claus ornament. The sales from decorations and trees in the store are used to help victims of domestic and sexual assault.

Every Christmas tree and every colorful decoration that leaves The Key on Central second-hand store represents an act of giving.

That’s because those trees and holiday decorations are first donated to the store, 1030 Central Ave., before being sold. And the money from the sale of those items are used by the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center to help victims of domestic and sexual assault.

Those victims could be men, women or children, according to Leah Bair, program development director for D/SAOC.

But a lot of times they all have something in common, she said.

“Most of the people we serve come to us with little or nothing,” Bair said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Anne Kersten, a volunteer at the Christmas store inside The Key on Central, is all smiles as she holds a Santa Claus decorative piece.

That’s why she said it’s critical to be able to sell and raise funds to help them.

Everything sold from The Key and its Christmas store helps to fund D/SAOC. The Key sells things like household items, clothing, gently used furniture and home decor.

But Bair said the store’s busiest time of year is Christmas.

“It brings in new revenue and feels festive and happy,” Bair said. “We make more money during these months because we have more items in the store.”

And it’s volunteers like Joan Tibbitts who make the Christmas store possible. She’s been giving her time for a decade.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Joan Tibbitts, organizer of the Christmas store at The Key on Central, looks on as she places an assortment of Santa decorations on the shelves.

She remembers first starting.

“Ten years ago we just had a small portion in the back,” Tibbitts said. “Now we get about a third of the store to decorate.”

The store has plenty of Santa Claus figurines, a snow globe or two and a variety of angel ornaments. And of course, the trees.

“Everything we put up is donated,” Tibbitts said. “All the trees, decorations, the Santas.”

On Saturday, Tibbitts along with volunteers Anne Kersten and Jo Shelly, were setting up a tree visible from a window that looks out onto Central Avenue.

“It puts you in the spirit,” Kersten said. “People bring in a lot of cool things from their home.”

Tibbitts, a retired third-grade teacher from Butler Elementary School, said the trees sold at The Key are fully decorated.

“Our clients are very appreciative of the prices,” Tibbitts said. “People enjoy getting pretty things for the holidays.”

The three women enjoy the season and they know it’s for a good cause.

“We have been good friends for many years,” Shelly said.

Kersten said she’s happy she started volunteering about six years ago.

“I really enjoy it and I am glad Joan roped us into it,” Kersten said.

“Well, I call and she answers,” Tibbitts said.

The Christmas decorations are put up in October. And they come down right after Christmas.