Still thrifty at 100

South Dakota — Apr 2023

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A woman smiling in an MCC thrift shop
Alice Graber, 100, volunteers at the Freeman Et Cetera shop in South Dakota two times a week.

At 100 years old, Alice Graber volunteers twice a week at the Freeman Et Cetera Shoppe in South Dakota.

“I just get a kick out of seeing the clothing that gets donated. And meeting other people. I get to work with others who are doing the same work, and it’s just interesting to get to know them,” says Graber.

The Freeman Et Cetera shop is one of 40 MCC Thrift shops across the U.S. that donate most or all their profit to Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Funds from all U.S. shops, $7.6 million in 2021-2022, are used to provide relief, encourage sustainable development and work for peace in 45 countries.

Volunteers are key to the shops’ ability to give generously to MCC, says Deb King, MCC Thrift Shop development coordinator in the U.S. Thousands of volunteers work in the shops each year.

One of Graber’s favorite jobs is sorting and pricing clothing donations. She’s also an avid thrifter for her own wardrobe and put together a lovely secondhand ensemble for her birthday celebration this last December.

A woman smiling for a photo
Alice Graber wears a thrifted outfit to her 100th birthday party in December 2022. MCC photo/Kris Carlson

But there are some donated fashion items that Alice doesn’t understand! “Those tops and bottoms that go together like a romper or something. I couldn’t imagine anyone wearing those. And ripped jeans!” says Graber.

Those who are lucky to be on Alice’s shifts are treated with homemade baked goods during their coffee break, including her famous brownies.

“No matter the age or wardrobe style, Alice and other volunteers make change happen for people in need locally and around the world,” says Kris Carlson, manager of the Freeman Et Cetera Shoppe. “From sorting and organizing product on the shop floor to wiping down counters, each volunteer is helping to change the world.”