Meet EveryStep Giving Tree's "Monday Morning Crew"

Monday mornings are typically the least anticipated day of the week. Few of us on Sunday evening find ourselves wishing for Monday morning to come sooner.

Unless you’re the Monday morning crew of volunteers at EveryStep Giving Tree in Urbandale.

Ruth Wallace of Grimes, Gai Shields of Johnston and Mardelle Oakley of Des Moines have been volunteering together at the store for 11 years. “I was looking for a place to volunteer and I walked in to EveryStep Giving Tree,” remembers Mardelle. "I heard Ruth laughing in the back room and I said, ‘that’s it!’ It’s been great ever since.” The “newcomer” of the group, Sheila Gleason of West Des Moines, joined as a volunteer six years ago.

“I’m so proud to volunteer here,” says Sheila. “It’s an upscale boutique — not what you would think a thrift store would be.” In fact, the ladies don’t even like calling it a thrift store. From the wide selection of designer clothing and shoes to the best of modern and vintage décor, every item is cleaned, washed, steamed or polished before it hits the floor.

“We won’t put it out there unless it’s clean,” says Sheila and Mardelle adds, “We steam every single piece of clothing that comes in.” And what comes in is impressive. “The donations are amazing,” says Ruth, who is typically the volunteer that puts together the department store-quality outfits on the store’s dress forms. “Where the money goes is so important to all of us and the fact that this store looks so nice — we’re just so proud of that!”

“A lot of customers come in every week, and then we’ll get the customers who come in for the first time, and they’ll say they’re coming back and telling their friends about us,” says Gai. Mardelle recently brought her 23-year-old granddaughter, who is beginning a teaching position, to EveryStep Giving Tree on a shopping trip. “She said, ‘grandma, I had no idea what kind of a store this was!’ She had an armful of clothing and said she’ll be back,” says Mardelle. “It’s nice to know young people are finding what they need here.”

And so are Ruth, Gai, Sheila and Mardelle — they’re volunteers and frequent shoppers. “One time I came in to get a shirt and I left with a loveseat,” laughs Mardelle. Gai encourages anyone who likes to shop to volunteer. “I tell people I volunteer for [EveryStep] and they say ‘oh, that’s so sweet.’ Then I tell them I volunteer while I shop for four hours!”

All four women agree their volunteering at EveryStep Giving Tree is meaningful because of the mission and because of each other. “We’ve become family,” says Mardelle. “We just plain love each other.”

Wednesday, August 17 is National Thrift Shop Day and EveryStep Giving Tree is celebrating. From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. that day, there will be refreshments, plus 10% off furniture items and 20% off all other items, including collectibles.

EveryStep Giving Tree thrift store helps carry out the EveryStep non-profit mission by directing all proceeds from thrift store sales toward programs and services which benefit EveryStep's patients, clients and their families. Donations of gently used furniture, clothing and accessories, home décor and household items may be dropped off at the back of the store at 3330 100th Street, or if you have a large donation, a pick-up may be possible. Call 515-270-2414 for information. The store is open for shopping and donations Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

EveryStep Giving Tree is always looking for enthusiastic, energetic volunteers who can share at least four hours per week supporting EveryStep’s non-profit mission. To learn about the different ways you can volunteer your time, visit

Pictured above, L-R: Ruth Wallace, Gai Shields, Sheila Gleason, and Mardelle Oakley.