SALEM -- For nearly eight years, the Shoppe Off Broadway has served as a thrift store run by and for the people of the community.
Operated by a staff of 12 to 15 volunteers, the shop has donated $8,000 to $10,000 from sales of items annually to community projects, said founding member Sue Keyes.
"We started it up in 2004 in the basement of the courthouse and would take in anything, from clothing and housewares to books and videos and small furniture items," she said.
The thrift store, which offers thousands of inexpensive items for sale, relocated to the small white building adjacent to the old Salem courthouse in 2007.
Volunteers receive the donated goods, many of which are clothing items for all ages, and prepare them for sale. The funds generated are then returned to the community, a process of recycling in its truest form, Keyes said.
"They have been around a long, long time and they do a lot of community service work," said Salem Supervisor Seth Pitts.
"The big thrust is on youth. These are the things that improve the quality of life here," he said.
Since 2004, a portion of sales at the shop has been donated to the local food pantry, the Salem/Shushan Fuel Fund - that provides local families with funds to supplement their spending on fuel - and Hugs for Heroes, a local support program which delivers military care packages and helps local veterans with rent, groceries and counseling.
Much of the work, however, is focused on youth and youth-related activities.
With the organization's support, 100 kindergarten through sixth-grade students take part in the six-week community summer enrichment program, Lunch, Learn & Play.
"It's a totally free program where the kids are there anywhere from 11:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon," said Herb Perkins, chairman of the Salem Area Youth Association.
Sales generated at the shop have also been used to install bathrooms and complete architectural improvements at the youth barn, where the summer programs are held.
"They have been instrumental in developing the youth barn, and this all makes our Lunch, Learn & Play a free summer program possible for the children in the area, so it's just been great," Perkins said.
A future, long-term project in the discussion phase is potentially expanding the children's program beyond the summer and into a three-season schedule that will include older students as well.
"The thing is, I think the kids really need things to do in this little town, especially now with school funding not being what it once was," Keyes said.
"It's also a social thing for the volunteers and for the customers. People come in and see their friends; they have a good time at it."
The Shoppe Off Broadway is located in the village of Salem, on the grounds of the old Salem Courthouse. The shop is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call 854-9090.