Behind the Scenes with Two Angels


Carolyn Wiley, KP News

Editor’s note: We sent two reporters to find out more about the volunteers that make up one of the Key Peninsula’s perhaps best-loved charitable organizations. See Part 1 of the story here.

Anne Larson at work. Photo: Carolyn Wiley, KP News

The usual schedule for these particular Angels—Ann Larson and Toni Jacobson—is sorting donations on Wednesday mornings. Ann Larson also works in the store on Saturday afternoons and substitutes for vacationing Angels. Since joining Angel Guild in 2000, Larson and Jacobson have worked together sorting through tons of donations and pricing items for sale in the Angel Guild Thrift Shop. After sharing this Wednesday morning ritual for approximately 120 weeks, they have established an easygoing friendship and consider themselves “companions in crime.”

The objective of Angels working behind the scenes is to maintain a two-week supply of merchandise to assure that the store is well stocked without overburdening the limited storage capacity.

Larson and Jacobson and the other sorting Angels work through each bag or box of donations, inspecting every item for flaws and shopper appeal. Items are then priced and put into the Angel Guild Thrift Shop merchandise stream or placed in the storage area for re-donation. The impact of donations does not end at the door of the Angel Guild Thrift Store. Money earned through sales are donated back to nonprofit organizations in the Key Peninsula community and items that don’t make the “cut” are passed on to The Arc of Washington State. Twice a month, The Arc of Washington picks up unsold merchandise and other items that are not suitable for resale. The Arc is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights and full participation of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Visit The Arc website to find out more about this organization and its activities and to learn about the work that is supported through donations.

Inventory of donations. Photo: Carolyn Wiley, KP News

Decisions of the sorters are based upon probability of resale. Determinants for wearable clothing are “in or out of fashion” and “in or out of season.” Household items must be in working condition and there should not be a glut of identical items.

Once an item is deemed appropriate, it is priced and hung or boxed to be ready for display. Categories of items are grouped and forwarded to one of the “specialists” who usually work from home. Larson explained these “special” Angels check to assure that each item has customer appeal and a useful life.

One volunteer sorts games and puzzles, checking to be sure there are no missing pieces. Another sorts toys to be sure they are clean and in working order. Another sorts and organizes craft materials while another examines jewelry, and still another sorts and prices office and school supplies. When items come in that are deemed to have value for collectors, they are forwarded to the Angel who handles eBay listings.

The Angel Guild Thrift Shop is in KC Corral in Key Center, open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., donations accepted Mon-Sat, 9:30 to 3:30. Call 253-884-9333 or email