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Perhaps An Elusive Shop - But a Boon to Those in the Know

By Jan Jennings I April 25, 2005

Racks of colorful clothes at greet you at the
entrance of the Resale Shop on campus.

What is it? Where is it? Why is it?

Patricia Ann O'Leary, an administrative coordinator in Student Affairs, calls it "my special boutique. I love this store!" Carlos Morris of the Student Health staff gathers trappings there to create his Star Trek cyborg and klingon costumes for Halloween.

Alma Coles, president of the Friends of the International Center, UCSD, says "visual arts students buy the most bizarre things there for their art projects." And students, faculty, staff and community members buy everything from clothes to household appliances and jewelry and post cards to crutches and placemats.

It's the Resale Shop a k a Thrift Shop, still an elusive trove to many. Where? At the UCSD International Center on Library Walk across from Center Hall. Colorful clothing waves buoyantly from racks at its courtyard entrance (special tag items are half price and red tag items go for 50 cents).

The "why" is a bit more complicated.

Student Health staffer Carlos Morris
showspictures of Halloween costumes
created with his "finds" at the center's
Resale/Thrift Shop.

The obvious is that it provides multifarious goods at bargain-basement prices to the thrift-conscious buyer. The bonus is that proceeds from the Friends of the International Center Resale/Thrift Shop sales go directly to scholarships for UCSD students studying abroad and foreign students studying at UCSD.

"This is the beauty of the shop," says International Center director Mary Dhooge. "The items are donated by friends of the university and the community who want to recycle them for a good cause. The donated items are bargains to people who need and purchase them. Best of all, the donated items are recycled into scholarships for our students."

This year, 2004-2005, the Friends of the International Center are celebrating their 30th year of support of international scholarships.

For 2003-2004, the Friends awarded a total of $42,000 in scholarships to UCSD students, according to Friends' treasurer Mildred Cleveland.

"Of that total, $22,000 came from net proceeds from the Friends' Resale Shop and other Friends' fundraising events, such as house tours and ethnic dinners, as well as reserve funds and gifts earmarked for scholarships," Cleveland says.

"Matching funds totaling $20,000 (bringing the scholarship total to $42,000) were received from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, the Office of Student Affairs, the School of Medicine, and the UC Education Abroad Program.

Cleveland says that approximately $16,000 was raised directly from the Friends' Resale/Thrift Shop, which first opened its doors in 1981.

ERC senior Tyheshia Smith-Kruck considers
a purple dress from the ladies' dress rack.

"The Friends of the International Center is a relatively small group of immensely dedicated volunteers who much prefer to offer hands-on assistance to our international students, postdocs, and their families than to do fundraising," says Ruth Newmark, Friends' scholarship committee chairman and newsletter editor. "But cognizant of the financial need . we try to raise as much money as we can and do so in varying ways. Most importantly, we run the Thrift Shop, operated entirely by volunteers. All kinds of customers visit our shop - and we need donations as much as customers!"

The Friends are equally proud of the quality and variety of goods at low prices offered by the Resale/Thrift Shop and the scholarships they make possible for students.

Thrift Shop prices range from a dime for a trinket to $50 for a musical keyboard or a silver service set - with a gamut of articles and prices in between. Men's slacks and shirts go for $3 to $5; a sports jacket, $5 to $6; shoes, generally $3. Women's jackets go for $4 or $5; slacks, $3 to $5; dresses, $4 to $7, with "special" outfits setting you back $10. There also are ties, scarves, purses, nightwear, and underwear.

Then there are appliances (such as coffee pots and waffle irons), lamps, glassware, mugs, jewelry, frames, cards, posters, candles, dishes, bedding, pillows, luggage, tapes, videos, records, toys, games, baskets, and assorted stuffed animals, including teddy bears. Paperbacks go for 50 cents, and there are hard-cover books on foreign languages, travel, medicine, biography, biology, economics, poetry, fiction, social science, and so on. The shop has inventoried roller skates, skis, ski boots, boogie boards, wet suits, wedding dresses, and bridesmaids' dresses.

It is, at any time, a veritable chock-full mini-mart. The merchandise is continually changing - with "hot" items here today, gone tomorrow.

ERC third year student Teresa Trout purchases a
case for her iPod from volunteer Fran Doolittle.

Teresa Trout, a third-year student at Eleanor Roosevelt College, was thrilled when for 50 cents she found a case that would be perfect for an iPod. "Anywhere else, I would probably pay $20 for the case," Trout says.

Michelle Null of the Academic Senate office both donates goods to the Thrift Shop and buys from it. "I've purchased a coffee maker for the office and a toaster for home," Null says. "When I retire, I may consider volunteering here."

That's exactly what happened to Fran Doolittle, who also worked on campus. She brought things in to the Resale/Thrift Shop, talked with the volunteers - and pretty soon, she became one. That was six years ago and she continues to volunteer three hours a week in the shop.

Another volunteer, Dottie Keffala says, "I wouldn't dream of being paid after I worked so long here. I love this university." Keffala has three daughters, two of whom are UCSD graduates. (The third went to USD.)

"This shop is a very sociable place." adds Keffala, who retired in 1992 from duties in the Chancellor's office. "So many people on campus come here. Of course, there are many who still don't know about us too."

In addition to the donations from campus and community people, Doolittle and Keffala say that a considerable amount of goods come from a consignment shop on Girard Avenue in La Jolla.

The beneficiaries of the work of the volunteers and the donations are the UCSD students who receive scholarships for specific programs abroad which will further their studies.

Alma Coles, President of the Friends of the
International Center, chats with volunteer
Dottie Kaffala, at the shop counter.

"Students fill out application forms, write a brief essay explaining what the Friends' funds would be used for and provide letters of support," says Newmark. "The scholarship committee takes a very personal interest in the recipients of Friends' scholarship." Recent awards, in most cases, have been $1,000 for undergraduates and $2,000 for graduate students.

"We are pleased to learn that a Friends' scholarship has on many occasions helped a student get further awards," says Newmark, "or more often convinced a student's parents that their kid's plan to study abroad is indeed worthwhile."

As a condition of their award, students are asked to write to the Friends from abroad or summarize their project here at UCSD. Newmark shares a number of students' thoughts:

. Luciane Cardassi, who received two Friends' scholarships, wrote that she was able to finish her doctoral degree in music in shorter time than usual "because our financial help allowed her to concentrate her energies on her recital and academic work."

. Joseph Hyder, who is taking a year off from his joint Ph.D./M.D program to accept a fellowship from Johns Hopkins to conduct HIV research in Thailand, wrote: "I am certain that the support of the Friends, making my (earlier) Guatemala trip possible, was critical to my success in the application process."

. Kyla Mitsunaga, who has been corresponding with Newmark for six years, wrote that "the Friends' scholarship and our continued friendship has given me courage to apply to graduate school" . and that she will attend Harvard University to work on a master's degree in East-Asian Studies.

Following attending an appreciation luncheon, Fatma Mindikoglu, a graduate student from Turkey who will use her scholarship to attend an international conference on genocide in Toronto, wrote: "I was very touched and honored to meet people who had to work so hard all year long for every penny of my scholarship. This fact alone, in my opinion, makes a Friends' Scholarship a very special and prestigious one. And I am proud to be a recipient."

The Friends' Resale/Thrift Shop is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday throughout the school year, with limited hours in the summer. All donations gratefully accepted and tax deductible. All thrift shoppers welcome. For more information on the shop or on the International Center, call (858) 534-3730.



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