Christmas Store Volunteer Spreads – and Receives – Joy during Holidays

When RSVP member Lois Dennik retired 12 years ago, she wanted to meet new people, help others and feel useful.

“I felt like I want to do something that’s fun,” she said. “It shouldn’t be work.”

Today, she volunteers about 24 hours every month and is one of RSVP’s biggest ambassadors. Dennik tells others about RSVP and often hands out brochures that explain the program.

Lois Dennik volunteers at the Christmas Store, which sells holiday decorations, ornaments, furniture, nativity sets, collectibles and antiques, all donated by the community. Proceeds fund SVdP programs.

“It just seems like volunteers are all nice people,” she said. “RSVP is a clearing house. I’m glad we have such an organization. I appreciate the monthly newsletters.”

During the school year, she tutors in the United Reading For Success program and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity during the summer. But when the holidays roll around, she helps as a cashier at the Christmas Store at Northland Mall. It is operated by St. Vincent de Paul Appleton. On Fridays she wraps purchases and strolls the aisles, making sure the merchandise is displayed correctly.

Dennik is among 12 RSVP members who have served 1,141 hours at St. Vincent de Paul.   According to Carol Bloemer, the director of RSVP, St. Vincent de Paul and RSVP have a longstanding relationship. In fact, since RSVP started in Outagamie County in 1998, 38 RSVP volunteers have provided 17,192 hours of service.

Dennik loves talking with customers in such a festive atmosphere.

“As soon as you see the trees in the window and the lights, it gets you in the spirit,” she said. “The shoppers are in the spirit. It’s nice – fun. The customers love it and I see familiar faces because they come back year after year. The prices are wonderful.”

The Christmas Store features beautiful holiday decorations, ornaments, furniture, toys, nativity sets, collectibles and antiques – all donated by the community. Proceeds fund programs at St. Vincent de Paul.

When asked what kind of advice she would give other retirees, she said folks should decide what they really enjoy.

“Then zero in on something,” she said. “Some people will choose one organization and give it their all. They might volunteer there two or three times a week. The best part about it is feeling useful and socialization.