MATTOON -- The Sarah Bush Lincoln Gift Shop set up shop for the day at the Cross County Mall during the annual Business Expo on Thursday.
Gift Shop Coordinator Meredith Boner said the shop, which she staffs with the help of volunteers, typically never takes its merchandise on the road from Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center but decided to give it a try at the invitation of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber organizes the Business Expo.
"This is the first time we have been to the Business Expo. They invited us and we thought it would be a great opportunity to come out and be seen and showcase some of our Christmas items," Boner said at the shop's expo booth. "It's been great. We have had a lot of traffic. People have stopped in to see what we have. We had folks tell us they come out (to the health center) just to shop, which is nice to hear."
Boner said the shop, located next to the Sarah Bush Lincoln's main lobby, stocks gift items for patients and their families, health center staff members, and other customers. She said the shop also carries convenience items such as cellphone chargers, combs, toothbrushes and paste, and snacks to meet the everyday needs of those who did not expect to be at the hospital.
Other than herself, Boner said the gift shop is staffed entirely by volunteers who are working through Sarah Bush Lincoln Volunteer Services. Boner said she transferred within the health center to the gift shop coordinator position in June and has loved working with the shop's group of volunteers ever since then.
The team of volunteers at the gift shop includes Wendy Specker, who helped staff the Business Expo booth. Specker, an Ohio native, said she started volunteering at the shop in March after she and her family moved from Southern California to Charleston. Specker said volunteering at the shop has provided a great way for her and her 17-year-old daughter, Heidi, to get to know their new community.
Specker said she has enjoyed interacting with new dads purchasing presents for their wives and newborns, families buying gifts for their hospitalized loved ones, nurses shopping on their breaks, and other customers at the shop.
"It is such a fun, friendly place to be," Specker said of the gift shop. "It has been a wonderful way to meet new people in the area for me personally."
The Sarah Bush Lincoln Gift Shop is open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday each week. The shop is scheduled to host a holiday season open house at 8:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday and take part in the Sarah Bush Lincoln Volunteer Guild's Fall Market at 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 20 in the Lumpkin Family Center for Health Education at Sarah Bush Lincoln.
Boner said there are opportunities for volunteers to help on the gift shop sales floor and behind the scenes, as well as in many other roles for Sarah Bush Lincoln Volunteer Services.
"We are always looking for volunteers. There is something for everyone," Boner said. She added that those interested in helping can contact Volunteer Services at 217-258-2500.