CAVALIER, N.D. — Soon stores will be packed as the holiday shopping season officially gets underway but in one community, a local store is always filled with shoppers and each time the register rings, the region benefits.
"I'm putting out puzzles right now," volunteer Helen Restemayer said. "Everything has to be marked."
It's another busy afternoon for Restemayer at the Cavalier Thrift Store, but the 86-year-old is used to it, she's been doing it for more than two decades.
"I always come in early because once customers come in you can't do anything back here," Restemayer said.
Up front, Judy Sturma is busy preparing for the holiday rush.
"We get a lot of Christmas stuff in, people have been waiting for us to get it out," volunteer Judy Sturma said.
On the busy afternoon, Ann Gunderson is pulled away from the till to help with the customers.
It's the dedication of these women that keeps the thrift store going.
"It's hard work, but it's worth the effort," volunteer Maida Stark said.
These hardworking grandmas don't take a penny for their time — many of them work ten hours a week.
"It's the most feel-good thing I have ever been involved in because I know this money is going to do good someplace," Stark said.
With the exception of paying to keep the lights on at the store, every single penny that goes into the register goes back to the community.
"It's mind boggling," Stark said. "It's something you can't fathom. Those quarters and dollars add up."
Since the late 90's, the store has donated more than $800,000 to various organizations and scholarships across the Northern Valley, with most of it staying in Pembina County.
"Makes you feel nice and warm and fuzzy," Sturma said.
The thrift store first opened in the 1940's inside the nearby Presbyterian Church to help buy things for the church, but it kept growing and growing to the point where the church didn't need the money.
It was in the 90's when the store really began to thrive under the leadership of the late Mary Guenther.
"Mary did it all, she did the unpacking, she did the pricing, she even scrubbed the floors," Stark said.
When it comes to dishing out the cash, the fifteen volunteers all have a say. They meet four times a year to write checks.
There is one rule they follow.
"We try to make it something that is a need and not a want," Stark said.
The thrift store has put rummage sales out of business across the region. Many rather just give what they don't want to the store.
"That's the best part of the whole thing is that they give money back to the community," donor Curtis Steinlofsin said.
"We get donations from all the way from South Dakota into Canada to sell to people looking for a bargain," Stark said.
"It's a treasure hunt and I just love it here and you can find almost anything," customer Ellen Toews said.
"If we don't have it, they don't make it," Stark said laughing. "Don't know why anyone would go spend $10-15 when you can get it for a dollar here."
A group of ladies volunteering their time sorting and organizing people's unwanted stuff.
"It's such an effort that they put out," Steinlofsin said.
Turning it into treasures for shoppers and the community.
"It's really rewarding when we find out how much cash we usually have to donate," Sturma said.
The store is open from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
The Cavalier Thrift Store is always interested in hearing from organizations in need of money.
Feel free to contact them to be considered for their list.