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Judy Spooner Viewpoint: Spring cleaning that helps your neighbors

It doesn't really feel like spring but it is, according to the calendar. That means you should be doing some spring cleaning. Get out those big black plastic bags and fill them with clothes you don't wear.

You might wonder why I'm concerned about your spring cleaning. I have an ulterior motive. There's room for more stuff at the Stone Soup Thrift Shop in St. Paul Park, located on Third Street, next to Oltman Middle School.

It's not only a great place to shop for bargains but it helps your neighbors. People with vouchers from Washington County, or other referrals, can get stuff for free. Many people, such as women who have been in a women's shelter with their kids, are starting over.

To drop off your stuff, drive around the back of the old high school to a loading dock. Ring the bell and someone will come to take your stuff, especially if it's heavy, which I hope it is.

After I drop off stuff, I drive around to the front of the store and go in to check the bargains.

A month ago, I bought a pink glass-footed bowl that, when filled with cut up melon at Easter, looked really pretty on our table. I can't believe it only cost me $7. There was another identical one for sale in pastel blue glass.

There's a good selection of costume jewelry at the front counter. If you make jewelry, you can create more jewelry by using parts of the stuff you can buy at reasonable prices.

About the clothes you'll be sending. In the past, I've only taken clothes that could be re-used, but don't worry if clothes are worn. Volunteers sort them and someone picks up worn clothes and recycles them into rags for oil and chemical spills.

Games and children's toys are welcome, too. Kids don't understand why they can't have some of the things other parents can afford to buy.

If you have furniture you want to get rid of, the store will pick it up for free; just call to get it on the schedule. On pickup days, there are people waiting to get furniture when the truck comes in.

If you have questions about a donation, e-mail the store at

There are some things that people need and are in short supply most of the time, thrift store workers told me recently.

They always need towels, silverware and dishes. Also, plastic storage containers are handy to have. If you are setting up a household, you need a liner for your shower certain. At the end of a trying day, at least you can look forward to a shower.

The fifth annual "Stone Soup-er Bowl" is the shop's main fundraiser and will be held from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Park Grove Bowling Lanes. Five sessions are scheduled.

Get a team of five bowlers together and raise money from pledges.

Everything during your session is free, including bowling, shoes, food and snacks. There are prizes in each session for the team with the best costumes.

Don't forget to have fun.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600