How the Angel Guild Helps the Community

The Key Center nonprofit supports local schools, programs for the elderly and much more on the Key Peninsula.


The Angel Guild has had a positive impact on the lives of Key Peninsula residents for more than four decades, according to Carla Parkhurst, who has been coordinator at the thrift shop for 11 years. 

The community benefits whether one is an Angel Guild thrift store shopper or someone who just has too much stuff, or a local nonprofit group requesting funding the Angel Guild has awarded in grants funded by its store.

Even operating on a three-day schedule under COVID-19 protocols, the store requires a minimum of 108 volunteer hours per week to keep it running efficiently, according to Parkhurst. They hope to eventually restore regular shopping hours.

Volunteer time is divided between two essential functions: the first is sorting and pricing donations, the second is staffing the store. An unseen block of volunteer hours is also amassed by those who take home games and sort through craft items to prepare them for display. The attractive fabric packets and jars of color-sorted beads seen in the store do not arrive pre-sorted, Parkhurst said.

Angel Guild President Pat Kunzl said there are several things to consider when donating clean, gently-used items. Storage space is limited, so holiday items can’t be held for the next year. “Call first, to be sure that there is someone to receive your donation,” she said. “Please don’t leave donations out in the weather. It gets ruined.”

Donors are encouraged to stop by the store to pick up a list of acceptable items and instructions, such as packing clothing in plastic bags and hard goods in boxes.

The shortage of storage space has a benefit for shoppers because it forces the sorters to be very fussy. They ensure nothing makes it into the store that is soiled, stained, torn, or in need of mending or buttons. Angels do not have the capacity to wash, iron or make repairs. All items that end up in the store have been checked at least three times before getting to the shelves and racks.

Angels also keep an eye out for collectables that can be sold on eBay, and further maximize donor generosity by collecting Food Market receipts for cash donations.

Ann Larson and Toni Jacobson, both 20-plus-year volunteer angels, said it’s important for donors to consider the average age of volunteer personnel. “Most of us are between 60 and 80,” Larson said. “If your grandma can’t lift it, neither can these grannies.”

While Jacobson was sorting through a huge, heavy bag, she said “Construction bags and body bags are too big. This one would hold three of us.”

The Angel Guild Thrift Store is in the Key Center Corral at 9013 Key Peninsula Highway NW, open Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call 253-884-9333.

Editor’s Note: The Angel Guild is a longtime underwriter of Key Peninsula News.