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Cavalier Thrift Store donates one millionth dollar to local community

People flocked to the basement of the Cavalier Presbyterian Church to shop and donate items when Agnes Pico Spiller opened the store more than 70 years ago, because the store could not afford to lease its own storefront. After changing locations several times in the 90s, it landed at 212 Main St. W., in Cavalier where it is today.

Cavalier Thrift Store.jpeg
Cavalier Thrift Store's volunteers at its one millionth dollar celebration.

Cavalier Thrift Store had long outgrown its humble roots by reaching $104,000 in total donations to local organizations by 2004. On Wednesday, it hosted a celebration where it donated its millionth dollar.

People flocked to the basement of the Cavalier Presbyterian Church to shop and donate items when Agnes Pico Spiller opened the store more than 70 years ago because the store could not afford to lease its own storefront. After changing locations several times in the 1990s, it landed at 212 Main St. W., in Cavalier where it is today.

“When it moved to a permanent building, (Cavalier Thrift Store) started making donations to area organizations that needed funds,” said Carol Beard, who has volunteered at Cavalier Thrift Store for more than 10 years.

All of it led to a celebration Wednesday, when the store gave away its millionth dollar to the Cavalier Fire Department. Beard said there is no significance as to why the fire department received the millionth dollar. The store gave out 32 checks Wednesday before giving the millionth dollar away, and all but one of the recipients of the checks were present at the celebration.

“Every fire department, every ambulance squad and every quick response unit in the county is going to be getting a donation,” Beard said before the celebration. “The Cavalier Fire Department just happens to be the one that gets the millionth dollar.”

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Any person or organization can request money donations, and the Cavalier Thrift Store steps in and makes it happen.

“People write us letters requesting funds if they need something,” Beard said. “We always put an article in our local paper about who the recipients are, but we never put the amounts.”

Those who aren’t in need and want to help out can donate money and items to the store, with the only exception being computers and televisions. Anything else from clothes, household items and even children’s toys can be donated. Locals aren’t the only ones who can donate, either.

“We get donations from all the surrounding communities,” Beard said. “We have had donations from as far away as Oakes or Crookston. We have visitors from all over the country. Last week, we had somebody in from Utah, somebody from Alabama, California and Arizona. We have customers that may be back here for a vacation or just to come see family, and most of them end up finding something they need.”

Cavalier Thrift Store also annually donates two $1,000 scholarships to each of the high schools in Pembina County for students who decide to go to trade school. Beard said it has donated $98,000 in scholarships so far.

The store used to be open five days a week before the COVID-19 pandemic began. It closed for three-and-a-half months once lockdowns began before opening again, and now it operates Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Beard said business has returned to about the same level it was at before the pandemic, and most of the volunteers have returned, as well.

“Our volunteer force is not really young,” Beard said. “There were those with health conditions that didn’t want to be out, so we did close for that time. But, we are back open, and we are doing very well.”

The celebration also honored Maida Stark, a woman who volunteered at Cavalier Thrift Store for 26 years, who died in 2020. Donating the millionth dollar was one her goals, and she wanted to be around for it.

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“It was in sight,” Beard said. “It was getting close when she passed away last year. She had always told us that was her goal -- to reach giving away that millionth dollar. Today is really in her honor and memory. Her children will be there.”

Beard is thankful for those who have contributed to the milestone over the years, and she hopes people will continue to help Cavalier Thrift Store serve the community.

“We have a wonderful group of about 20 volunteers,” Beard said. “It’s very gratifying. It certainly serves a wonderful purpose for the community for people to donate things and to support our causes by shopping with us. It’s very gratifying.”

Cavalier Thrift Store Celebration.jpeg
Shawn Kessel, COO and Deputy Commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, speaks at the Cavalier Thrift Store's one millionth dollar celebration.

Related Topics: PEMBINA COUNTY
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