Archive for Thursday, August 19, 2004

Young volunter makes a difference at thrift shop

August 19, 2004

Summer may have wrapped up, but for one junior high student, summer's work goes on.

Nick Norman, a seventh-grader at Tonganoxie Junior High School, will continue his Saturday job -- volunteering at the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank.

For as long as he can remember, the 12-year-old has been a volunteer at the thrift shop.

His mother, the late Cam Norman, who also had volunteered at the thrift shop, took him there with her long before he was old enough to walk.

And although Cam died from asthma a year ago this month, Nick has kept up the family tradition.

During the past summer, Nick worked three days a week at the thrift shop, accompanying his grandmother, Helen Norman, who also volunteers. They worked from 8:30 a.m. until noon on Tuesdays and Fridays, and from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

"That's pretty much all I did this summer," Nick said. "Go to the thrift shop and swim."

And, chances are, Nick will be at the thrift shop again this coming Saturday.

"I plan to keep on working," Nick said. "I won't be able to work on a school day, but yeah, I'll definitely work there on Saturdays."

His jobs are many. Nick prices items and puts them in the sales rooms. He carries heavy items for the other volunteers and customers. And he runs errands to the bank and post office.

Nick recalled his mother stressing the importance of helping others. Cam was also active, along with her son, in Heart to Heart, a local group that rescues and finds homes for stray animals.

"Mom said one time that if you help people you'll go far in the world," Nick said. "And that the more friends you have the better off you are."

For the past year, Nick has lived with his uncle, Ron Norman, who lives across the street from Helen Norman.

Helen, who has two grandsons, is proud of both of them. And she's impressed with Nick's willingness to help others.

"Many of the people that are at the thrift shop are as old as I am or older," Helen Norman said. "A lot of us can't carry things any more, and he just carries all that stuff up and down the stairs and he does it with a big smile."

And that helps too, Norman said.

"He just puts the sunshine in everybody's lives when he's around," Norman said. "He's always a happy person and when you ask him to do something he doesn't complain."

Norman said Nick has always taken on responsibility. She thinks that's partly because of the his mother's long battle with severe asthma.

"By the time he was 2 1/2, he could call the ambulance and put the dogs in the bathroom and open the doors for the emergency workers," Norman said.

Dorothy Korb, a co-director of the thrift shop, said a few other children volunteer there, but Nick works the most hours.

Generally, volunteers must be at least 12, but because Nick worked with his grandmother and mother, he was allowed to start early.

"He does a very good job and he does whatever we ask him to do," Korb said.

Nick's sense of volunteerism can be linked to his grandmother, who said she tried to instill in her own children the importance of helping others.

"I have always told them, you might be short of money, but there always is somebody that's a little worse off than you," Norman said.

And Nick agreed, the Tonganoxie thrift shop truly helps people.

"There are about 60 families we help every month with food, paying utilities and necessities," Nick said.

And he's glad he's a part of that.

"I feel good, just to help them out and stuff," Nick said. "You see like a smile on their faces or something like that -- you really get a lot out of it."

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