Volunteer Voice: James

The Newton Et Cetera Shop is amazing. Last year, it donated $175,000 of its income to Mennonite Central Committee. $175,000 seems like a lot of money, and it certainly does have a sizable impact; but on the global scale, it is miniscule. Bill Gates can donate the same amount of money with the stroke of his pen. But the money the Et Cetera Shop raises is amazing for reasons other than its sheer quantity.

We do not work here to raise as much money as we possibly can. Our efforts are not the primary result of a desire to net as much income as possible or a pride that is experienced in checking, cleaning, and pricing donations as meticulously and thoroughly as is humanly possible. Instead, we do this because the plight of people living here and halfway around the world somehow pulls at the strings of our hearts. We feel connected to our brothers and sisters all over the world, all of whom have compassion in their eyes, peace at their fingertips, and the amazing capacity to love embedded deeply into their being. For this, they are beautifully human. For this, we love them. This love drives people to serve others around the world, to donate to charities, to volunteer at retirement homes, to smile and greet complete strangers, to work at food pantries, and, in our case, to work at the Et Cetera Shop.

For me, the Et Cetera Shop is amazing because of the enormous amount of love on which people act to make this place function. This love can be seen when Howard Buller donates wooden toys he has made.
It is manifested in the great thought that is put into the placement of every display fixture in the storefront and every sorting process in the back. It is heard at the break table when the people who work here share their stories, longings, and desires for peace.

Although we lack the resources to donate as much money as does Bill Gates, we price clothes with the same love he has when he writes his signature on a check. It is love that produces charities, peace-builders, donations, and thrift shops; it is love that makes all of these efforts so amazing.

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