Ground Breaking on March 21 for expansion project
CAMBRIDGE — The Robin Hood Shop, an icon of the downtown Cambridge community, will mark six decades of service later this month with a special birthday celebration. Operated by the Dorchester General Hospital Auxiliary for the benefit of programs, equipment, services and patient care at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Dorchester, the Shop is located at 416 High St. in Cambridge.
An Auxiliary committee, chaired by Mrs. Rudolph “Nell” Aeberle, founded the Shop in 1957 as a way to raise funds for a new emergency department at the hospital. Since the beginning, their mission — to clear out clutter in local homes and put those items back into service for those that need them, all while raising funds for the hospital — remains the same.
In its first two years, the Shop raised more than $16,000 for the hospital — and through 60 years of operation, proceeds have provided more than $1.2 million in donations for programs and services of University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Dorchester.
In the early years of the Shop, volunteers gathered donations in a variety of ways, including collection barrels placed at local fire departments and afternoon teas hosted by Auxiliary volunteers. The tea parties called on guests to bring donations for the Shop that were placed into open car trunks parked on the respective host’s lawn. These earned the name “trunk parties” because they featured a line of cars with open trunks on the lawn of the host ready to accept and transport the donations directly to the Shop.
As part of its 60th Birthday Celebration on March 21, the Shop will hold a groundbreaking celebration at 1 p.m. to kick off its latest expansion project. Once complete, the expanded space will house the Shop’s furniture and other larger offerings.
“We are very excited and optimistic about the expansion and the opportunity to offer furniture to our customers,” said Joy Loeffler, 2nd Vice president, DGH Auxiliary and Robin Hood Shop chair. “We’ve had to turn away offers of furniture so this expansion is a wonderful and a much-needed addition to the community.”
According to shop manager Cathy Gullion, the addition of social media has enhanced the Shop’s marketing efforts as well as their capacity to sell larger and higher-cost items to raise additional funds for the Shop.
“Being able to promote sales or post higher-value items on EBay and Craig’s List and market our sales on Facebook has helped us increase our outreach and income tremendously,” adds Ms. Gullion.
Volunteers and shoppers have witnessed numerous changes throughout the Shop’s history, including two expansions and a major renovation in 2006. One thing that has remained consistent, however, is the driving force behind the shop’s success: Its loyal volunteers.
Debbie Thomas, a longtime Auxiliary member and former Robin Hood Shop chair, attributes this dedication as a major factor for the Shop’s ongoing success.
“The volunteers have always stepped up. It is a wonderful group of people who work together,” says Ms. Thomas. “We are like a family down here and we are proud to be such a longstanding part of the neighborhood.”
The Shop’s continued success depends on its volunteers — and new volunteers are needed to help assure the Shop’s continued ability to serve the community.
“Even if someone can only give a couple of hours of his or her time each week, we appreciate every moment that a volunteer can devote to supporting the shop and the Auxiliary,” says Ms. Gullion.
Whether it is a high school student looking for community service hours or a new member of the community looking to make connections, the Auxiliary is excited to welcome new volunteers to the Shop. With the addition of their furniture showroom, strong male volunteers who can lift and move furniture and other large items are needed more than ever, adds Ms. Loeffler. Community members interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities are invited to contact Gullion at 410-228-6339.
In preparation for the 60th Birthday Celebration, which will be held on March 21 from 9 am-4 pm, the Robin Hood Shop will be closed on March 18 and March 20. During that time, all remaining winter merchandise will be removed and the Shop will be restocked with new spring items. The Robin Hood Shop offers gently used men, women and children’s clothing, fashion accessories, jewelry, a variety of household items and furniture as well as toys and books. Donations are accepted during Shop hours, which are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.