Pink Ladies re-emerge after pandemic

Exeter Community Service Guild’s thrift shop reopens; supports high school scholarships, community projects

EXETER – A group of elderly Exeter women did their best to brave the pandemic and keep the doors open to their thrift shop, but as cases spiked it wasn’t safe for their customers or themselves. Now, as vaccinations outpace infections and the state has lifted social distancing restrictions, the Exeter Community Service Guild has reopened its Pink Ladies Thrift Shop and are getting back to the business of funding scholarships and community projects.

“We’re coming back to life,” Pink Lady Peggy Downs said. “It feels wonderful to be back.”

The thrift shop, located at 118 S. E St. in Exeter, was open on a Saturday for the first time in more than a year on June 5. Thrift shop hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, as well as the first Saturday of each month. This is up from two days per week when the shop attempted to reopen last August but was forced to close back down as cases began spiking after Halloween.

“We missed each other so much, it was just awful,” Ann Luecke said.

The Pink Ladies Thrift Stop opened in 1963 on Pine Street and moved to its current site at 118 S. E St. in 1995. They have become an integral part of the community and all work is done by volunteers. Proceeds from the shop go to public service projects in the Exeter community. Some of the income from the shop is used to provide scholarships to local high school graduates. Other beneficiaries include Exeter Art Gallery, Chamber of Commerce, Little League, EUHS Music Boosters, Sober Graduation, Food Closet, Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and many local schools. The shop was named Exeter Business of the Year in 2006 and has won the Chamber of Commerce Scarecrow Contest for the last three years.

Exeter Community Service Guild operates the Pink Ladies Thrift Store and has a long history of providing for the citizens of Exeter. It originally started as Exeter Memorial Hospital Foundation and Service Guild in 1956 with the first president being Winifred Vincent. The members worked as helpers in the hospital doing everything from sitting at the visitor’s desk to helping feed patients. There was no thrift store at that time, so money was raised by hosting a dinner dance known as The Pretzel Prance.

When the hospital closed in 2001, the Pink Ladies started using the name Exeter Community Service Guild. The guild has helped fund the community clock at Joyner Park, water fountains in City Park, sidewalk benches, Christmas decorations, and 2020 Exeter fire work display.

The guild also hosts an annual brunch in May for installation of new officers and announcement of scholarship recipients. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the brunch was canceled for the second year in a row; however, the group was able to award $8,000 in scholarships. Jaden Giotta received a one-year, $2,000 scholarship for a vocational program and three others received $2,000 scholarships that are renewable for four years. Those recipients were EUHS seniors Riley Carpenter, Ismael Alvarado and Samantha Reeder. New officers for the organization are Patsy Lackey, president; Maggie Dutsch, vice president; Sue Holt, recording secretary; Mary Alice Copeland, corresponding secretary; and Elaine Howell, treasurer.

If a person is interested in joining the guild as either a working or supporting (non-working) member, they can send their name and contact information to Exeter Community Service Guild, PO Box 635, Exeter, CA 93221.

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