When you open the doors that lead into the Bargain Basket on Bald Eagle Drive to look for a special treasure or great bargain, you might be looking past the greatest treasure of them all. The greatest bargain that can be found within the store lies with the many volunteers who provide the wonderful service that you receive inside their doors.
The Bargain Basket is operated by the United Church of Marco Island and is essentially run through the efforts of over 100 volunteers. From receiving goods through the back door of their facility, to when those goods exit the store and the money is placed in the cash register, you are served by volunteers who graciously give their time and efforts to insure you are provided the best value for your dollar on the island.
Those volunteers, along with spouses and significant others, recently gathered at the Marco Island Yacht Club to be honored by the church and its management staff.
The church itself celebrated its 50-year anniversary over a year ago. The popular Bargain Basket is a great success story for the church. Operating since 1975, the popular thrift store is the largest on the island and attributes its success to its many volunteers and the generous donations from the community. Proceeds from that operation go to support the church, local charities such as Habitat for Humanity, the local food pantry, Grace Place and other organizations which help those in need.
In 2015, Dr. Mark Williams assumed the role as the pastor for the church after a nationwide search to replace Reverend Richard Adair, who moved with his wife to Tennessee to be closer to family.
Reverend Williams points directly to the work that is done by the volunteers as being the “heart and soul” of the organization. “If it wasn’t for their dedication, we would be hard pressed to provide some of the wonderful services we are able give to the community,” said Williams.
John Campbell, Chairman of the Church’s Mission Committee spoke to the great need that many are blinded to or fail to recognize due to the wealth that is often attributed to the Marco/Naples community. “Ninety-six percent of the children who attend the Manatee Middle School receive meal assistance or pay nothing for their meals,” said Campbell.
Due to the success of the Bargain Basket and other efforts the church they were able to donate $15,000 to the local Food Pantry to assist in their generous efforts to help feed these families.
Samantha Kopren, the Bargain Basket’s Store Manager addressed the gathering to thank them for their hard work which makes her job so much easier.
Attendees dined on vegetarian lasagna and chicken scallopine with fresh green beans and enjoyed a delightful desert of tiramisu.