2014-02-28 / Front Page

Budget Box celebrates 50th

An all-volunteer staff operates the consignment and donation shop
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


Volunteers at St. David’s Budget Box pose Monday as the Budget Box celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Budget Box, located on Route 1 in Kennebunk, operates on consignment and donations. It was started by congregants in 1964 as a way to contribute to the Episcopal church’s operating budget. Today, with 1,400 consigners, the Budget Box donates its profits to more than 30 local and national foundations. Front from left are Beth Beaton and Ann Mallory. Back, Jane Bellegard, Ellen Tacy, Jill Twombly, Susan Andrews, Carolyn Gowdy and June Cronin. (Alex Acquisto photo) Volunteers at St. David’s Budget Box pose Monday as the Budget Box celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Budget Box, located on Route 1 in Kennebunk, operates on consignment and donations. It was started by congregants in 1964 as a way to contribute to the Episcopal church’s operating budget. Today, with 1,400 consigners, the Budget Box donates its profits to more than 30 local and national foundations. Front from left are Beth Beaton and Ann Mallory. Back, Jane Bellegard, Ellen Tacy, Jill Twombly, Susan Andrews, Carolyn Gowdy and June Cronin. (Alex Acquisto photo) KENNEBUNK – “What’s that saying?” asked Susan Andrews, assistant chairman of St. David’s Budget Box, as she sifted through a box of donated items. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?”

This year marks the 50th year the Budget Box, a consignment and donation shop, has been in operation. It has been at its Route 1 location in Kennebunk since 2005.


Carolyn Gowdy, chairman of St. David’s Budget Box, talked to customers after they dropped off a box of donated items. Gowdy, of Wells, has been working with the Budget Box for more than 25 years. Assistant chairman Susan Andrews said of Gowdy, “If someone is in need she gives, gives, gives.” Gowdy was recently nominated by Andrews for a Salute to Senior Service Award through Home Instead Senior Care. (Alex Acquisto photo) Carolyn Gowdy, chairman of St. David’s Budget Box, talked to customers after they dropped off a box of donated items. Gowdy, of Wells, has been working with the Budget Box for more than 25 years. Assistant chairman Susan Andrews said of Gowdy, “If someone is in need she gives, gives, gives.” Gowdy was recently nominated by Andrews for a Salute to Senior Service Award through Home Instead Senior Care. (Alex Acquisto photo) The Budget Box opened sometime in 1964; however, records do not reveal the specific month.

It began as a way of outreach and a way to subsidize construction of a new building for St. David’s Episcopal Church. Since then, it has evolved into a very successful business operated solely by volunteers.

The space is snug with items, but not cluttered. On any given day one can enter the Budget Box to find anywhere between four and eight volunteers humming about, fixing a display or counting inventory.

The shop offers everything from men’s sport coats, to antique porcelain dolls, to tablecloths and various kitchen applianc- es, to women’s wallets to lamps and shoes and jewelry and dishes and winter coats.

“The items have to be seasonal and in good shape. We limit 20 items per person,” Andrews said. The Budget Box has approximately 1,400 consigners. The summer out-of-towners help to spread the partnership across state lines. “We mail checks everywhere, even Florida,” Andrews said.

Andrews is a member of St. David’s who helps Chairman Carolyn Gowdy, who has been working at the store for more than 25 years. Andrews recently nominated Gowdy for the Salute to Senior Service Award through Home Instead Senior Care.

“Carolyn and I are here about nine days a week,” Andrews said with a smile. “Carolyn does everything: pricing, inventory, waiting on customers. If someone is in need she gives, gives, gives,” Andrews said. June Cronin, volunteer of eight years, agreed: “Yes, she’s been here the longest, and she deserves to be front and center.”

Gowdy, unlike many of the current volunteers, worked with some of the original volunteers, of which only a few remain.

Barbara Donaghy, 95, who is a resident of Huntington Common, worked at the Budget Box during the summers from 1964 to 1972, at which time she began working full time. One of the original volunteers, Inez Snowden, 94, still volunteers.

Currently the Budget Box has 40 volunteers, and most are not congregants of St. David’s.

Cronin made the other volunteers guffaw when she stated, “I’m the token Catholic.”

“If you can’t tell, we have a lot of fun here,” said volunteer Jill Twombly.

On the wall behind the register, above the back room where inventory is taken, is a display board featuring more than 30 establishments that benefit from the Budget Box’s monetary and item donations.

From The Center for Grieving Children to Heifer International, other organizations that benefit include the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, the Biddeford Outreach Committee, In A Pinch non-food pantry and the American Red Cross.

“You just never know who is going to need money,” Andrews said, looking at the board.

Gowdy also uses the Budget Box to showcase cats for adoption. In the front of the store against the window is a three-tiered cage that houses a cat named Sarah Sahara. “She’s really a darling,” Gowdy said as she batted Sarah with her fingers. “We’ve probably helped get 50 cats adopted in the last few years.”

“We have some very faithful customers,” Gowdy said.

“Really, we’ve had a lot of volunteers through the years, but if it wasn’t for our community, we wouldn’t be here. It’s our community that has kept us here.”

The Budget Box is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

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