Call them Elgin’s $BIG$ donors

Elgin, Nebraska's little gem
Board of Directors at Elgin's Bargain Box are, l-r: Barb Finn, Linda Kerkman, Margaret Hensley, Carol Eischeid and Sandy Kerkman. Elgin Review composite

Elgin’s Bargain Box reaches the $100,000 mark in financial assistance to people, groups.
by Lynell Morgan
In just 32 months of operation, Elgin’s hidden jewel known as the Bargain Box has met and surpassed a major milestone. Their recent donations have put the total dollars that the business has given back to communities, organizations and individuals just beyond the $100,000 mark.
It’s an amazing accomplishment for a small business in a small town. What makes it even more amazing is that, according to statistics from the store, the $100,000 does not include items that they have donated to the schools, churches and families in crisis in the area.
The Bargain Box opened on August 15, 2014 with the “founders” not sure of what it’s impact would be on the community or on their lives.
It started with Carol Eischeid, Barb Finn, Linda Kerkman and Phyllis Camp primarily at the helm. The Camps (Phyllis and Bill) served on the board until this past February when they stepped down due to time conflicts but they continue to serve as volunteers at the business. The board can’t thank the Camps enough for their past help in guiding the business’s direction and feel very fortunate that they will still be an active part of the business.
Thinking about $100,000
Current members of the Board of Directors reflect back on their roles and years with the Bargain Box. Each has been humbled by the success that the Bargain Box has reached and are thrilled that they are able to give back to worthy causes and people.
Carol Eischeid, as one of the founding members, is surprised by where they are as a business. “$100,000….that amount wasn’t even discussed when the Box was first opened,” she wrote. “So many people have benefited from the no-longer wanted or needed items that have been dropped at the Bargain Box. To our volunteers–your willingness to give up precious, personal time to help sort, price, and display is invaluable to the success of the Box.  The Bargain Box is like the pebble dropped in water; the ripples of the results of the work/fun that occurs within just keep spreading outward.”
Linda Kerkman considers the business as part of her personal faith mission. “Never in my wildest imagination did I ever dream what God would do with our endeavors,” she said. “All involved can take a bow and thank God that we are able to be His hands helping so many.” Kerkman pointed out the number of boxes of clothing and more given to the Orphan Grain Train and the boxes of books shared with the Norfolk Rescue Mission for their book sale at the mall each year. “(We) have also given clothing, shoes and supplies,” she said. “Bright Horizons, along with funds, have received suitcases of household supplies such as dishes, kitchenware and clothing.”
Barb Finn pondered the impact of the $100,000 mark. “We acknowledge this $100,000 milestone with great humility,” she said after some thought. “The humility we feel is the thanksgiving to everybody who has donated, to everybody who has worked, to the communities and surrounding communities coming together. It is a great sense of humility.”
Margaret Hensley and Sandy Kerkman have both been volunteers since it’s opening and became of members of the board in February. They were both able to give similar yet slightly different perspectives. Hensley spoke of the unexpected emotions that simply opening a box can bring. “A lot of memories have been brought back through the many donations brought in,” she mentioned. “
“We often have an unidentified object that is the conversation piece until we find out what it is and used for.” She finds joy in the “older generations sharing their stories and knowledge of the past to the younger generations.”
Sandy Kerkman chuckles as she expresses what a lot of the volunteers feel while working. “I’m always amazed by what we get for donations,” she said. “And I’m always amazed by what goes out the door.”
If you’ve shopped at the Bargain Box, you know that the prices are very reasonable so just think about that for a moment. Think of how many items have been sold to make $100,000!  Impressive to say the least. Is it the prices, is it the joy of finding an item that was part of a person’s past, what is the driving force behind it’s success? While it’s likely a combination of all the above, Hensley summed it up best.
“I don’t know anyone in the area that hasn’t experienced the LOVE of the Bargain Box in one form or another,” she noted. “It’s been a great ministry for the unity of the community.”
To note the milestone and thank volunteers, donators and shoppers, the Bargain Box will be holding an Open House on Tuesday, May 16th.

1106 –Total number of volunteer hours in the combined months of February (368-1/2), March (307-1/2) and April (430) this year.
1500 –The number of boxes (mainly clothing) sorted, labeled and delivered to the Orphan Grain Train.