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Country store in Polson supports local charities

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POLSON — Cleaning out a cluttered closet might be worth more in the grand scheme of things than one might think. In the past six years, the Country Store, a small church run thrift shop on Main Street, has donated more than $106,000 to local charities and non-profit organizations. The store has also donated an additional $80,000 to ten area churches. Generous donations by the local community paired with modestly priced merchandise, usually between 50 cents to $1, has made these large scale donations possible. 

“When things go for no more than $5, it’s just amazing that the little store can take so much in. I’m amazed,” said Betty Thomas, a current board member who has volunteered at the store for 15 years. 

Thomas, a retired schoolteacher, volunteers on behalf of the United Methodist Church in Polson. She became involved with the Country Store after her husband passed away. Thomas said she needed to create structure in her life and had known about the charity since she’d moved to the area in 1982. Working with a sound group of women, on the board and as a store volunteer, has kept her involved. 

“I saw how much good the Country Store was doing and it made me feel good to be a part of it,” she said. 

The charitable shop has been active for more than 50 years and was the brainchild of Elsie Dutz, a long time Polson resident who has since passed away. The store is able to keep its doors open five days a week through the support of local churches. Every day, two churches orchestrate staff for half-day shifts.

“Each church has their workers. The work group is getting a little older, but we have a good substantial group,” said Board Secretary Phyllis Dresen, who serves as a representative of Pablo Nazarene Church. 

Norma Knutson, a member from the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, said she can’t remember exactly how long she’s been there, but believes the structure of the shop is unique and that a lot of good things get done. 

“We’re just like a big family. We see people in need who enjoy our bargains. Some things touch your heart and some things break your heart,” Knutson said. 

The board of directors meets once a month. Organizations can present their needs to the board by invitation.

Beneficiaries of the Country Store’s generosity include The Boys and Girls Club of Lake County and the Flathead Reservation, Cheerful Heart, Helping Hands, Polson Loaves and Fish food pantry, SAFE Harbor, and Share the Spirit, among others.

“A little act of kindness goes a long way,” Knutson said.

All three women mentioned that without the community, the Country Store’s monetary donations would not be possible.

“We thank everyone for their contributions. Without them, we wouldn’t have anything to put out,” Thomas said. 

The public is asked to make drop-offs during store hours to avoid theft and damage caused by poor weather. The Country Store is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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