Mystery donor leaves gold coin at Misericordia thrift shop in Palatine
Twice Blest Thrift Store in Palatine lived up to its name recently.
Not only did the shop do a brisk business over the holidays -- drawing nearly 100 people a day on average -- but volunteers found something extra special in an unassuming fundraising can that sits on the counter: a gold coin, valued at more than $1,200.
"Let me tell you, it was a big surprise," says one of the shop's volunteers, Marcia Marshall of Palatine.
The anonymous donor knew the coin would be used for a good cause. All of the proceeds from the store's sales benefit Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago and its services for children and adults with disabilities.
While these types of gold coins have been turning up every year in Salvation Army kettles, this was a first for Misericordia and its various fundraising outlets.
Julie O'Sullivan, marketing director for Misericordia, says that volunteers have received other types of coins during its Candy Day fundraiser every April, that may have been worth more than their original value.
"But I do not believe we have ever received something that was worth this much money," O'Sullivan says.
Back at the store, Marshall says that with all the hustle and bustle during the holiday season, there was no way they would have detected who the donor was or when the donation was made.
"During December, everything in the store was half price, so it was quite busy," Marshall said. "People recognize the can from our Candy Days collection and they usually put their spare change in there."
Mostly, she adds, customers like to pick up the little packages of Jelly Belly candies that have become so synonymous with Misericordia.
On any given day, customers come in looking for everything from clothes and children's toys, to furniture, kitchen utensils and dishes. The shop also carries jewelry, shoes and holiday decorations, to name just a few of its items.
The store reopened this week and every January it features gently used fur coats donated by a North suburban furrier as a way to help raise money for Misericordia.
O'Sullivan says funds raised throughout the year go toward supporting work opportunities, developmental training programs and therapy for its 600 children and adults who live on its residential campus in Chicago, as well as health, fitness and recreational activities.
The organization also draws 150 families who take part in its outreach programs, which range from parent support to social and recreational activities for children and adults with disabilities, living at home.
The volunteer who found the coin in the canister, wishes to stay anonymous, but as women in the shop worked to close up before the holidays, they still talked about the generosity of this stranger.
Word of the gold coin spread quickly to Misericordia's corporate office. Everyone from Sr. Rosemary Connelly, its executive director, to Lois Gates, assistant executive director, were humbled to be on the receiving end of the gift.
"We are truly grateful to the donor and know that they believe in the mission of Misericordia and our residents," Gates said. "We feel it's a great, feel-good story about the season of giving and we are so blessed that Misericordia was the recipient."