Always Thrifting: EveryStep Giving Tree Volunteer Melisa Vilums

Melisa Vilums has been thrifting nearly her entire life.
"I've been going since I was little with my mom and aunts," the new EveryStep Giving Tree thrift store volunteer recalls.
When she moved to Iowa nearly six years ago, one of her first missions was to check out the thrift store scene. That's when she found EveryStep Giving Tree.
She's been a customer ever since. While Melisa retired two-and-a-half years ago, she recently started looking for something worthwhile to fill her time.
In October 2019, she found it, and took her relationship with the thrift store to another level, joining the team as a volunteer.
"I saw a piece of furniture on EveryStep Giving Tree's Facebook page and I came into the store to get the dimensions," Melisa notes. "The piece was still in the back, so Cheryll [the store manager] had me come back to see it. When I walked back, everyone was laughing and having a good time."
That's when she knew she could do more than just shop at EveryStep Giving Tree.
"I said, 'I want to be here,' so I got an application," she recalls, noting that she has thrift store work experience, having helped her aunts at a shop in Rhode Island when visiting family.
Since early October, Melisa has been working behind the scenes at the store, cleaning, pricing and sorting donations. She's also become the de facto seasonal sorter, earmarking holiday decor and arranging other timely items.
She started as the store was beginning preparations for the annual Glitter Party and quickly took on the mega task of arranging Christmas decor. She's still at it; already prepping items for the 2020 event.
"I love it so far," she says. "All of it, being here, helping and knowing that it's for a good cause." All purchases at EveryStep Giving Tree support the people served by EveryStep’s non-profit care and support programs.
Melisa says everyone should consider donating a few hours a week to EveryStep Giving Tree.
"It's rewarding," she says. "You hear stories about how hospice helped families who come in to donate or shop. It's a final step for some people. It's a great place."

To learn more about volunteering opportunities at EveryStep Giving Tree visit our volunteer page and fill out a volunteer interest form.