De-cluttering and Donating

Sun Health Resale Boutique helps residents and the community clear out their clutter 

By Shanna Hogan 

For nearly five decades, 79-year-old Sandy Foell carefully stored her vast collections of antiques and family heirlooms, including crystal stemware her parents received for a wedding gift in 1929.

“It’s been packed and moved so many times,” says Sandy, a resident of Sun Health Senior Living communities, including Grandview Terrace and La Loma Village, for the past 18 years. “I couldn’t even tell you how many times I moved it.”

Recently, Sandy decided to clear out clutter from her La Loma Village home and give back to the community by donating her collectables — including the china, crystal, vintage brooches and antique sewing supplies — to the Sun Health Resale shops.

“I’ve been very involved with Sun Health and I know how much they help the community,” Sandy says. “So if I can give back to the community right here, I like that very much.”

Sandy’s involvement with Sun Health dates back to 1996. She has served on many boards and committees, including president, chair, vice chair, secretary and other positions. Sandy was chair of the Sun Health Foundation Board of Trustees for many years.

Many seniors hang onto cherished possessions for their children and grandchildren. But many younger people care little for collecting family heirlooms.

“The younger generation are more into finding what they like and their own collectables versus inheriting them,” says Sue Slezak, Sun Health retail manager.

For more than 30 years, the two nonprofit shops, located in Sun City and Sun City West (in partnership with Sun City West Foundation), have collected and resold donations of furniture, décor, jewelry, collectables, clothing and more. The gently used items are resold at the store and online. Sun Health uses the proceeds to create health and wellness programs and improve the community overall, including supporting programs and services at Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers. Many donations come from area residents who decide to move from a house to one of Sun Health Senior Living’s communities.

“It’s a downsizing thing,” says Sue. “I think that’s why it’s been so successful for so many years. A lot of the people who are bringing stuff in have talked to their kids who are saying ‘thanks but no thanks.’ Those become great donation items.”

In Sandy’s case, she never had children and is the last surviving member on her mom’s side, meaning she inherited possessions from several generations of her family.

For years the now-retired French teacher from Illinois made good use of the china and crystal to host dinner parties. But since retiring, those collections sat collecting dust in a spare room she designated the “stuff room.”

“Someone said, ‘How could you give that away? That was your mother’s,’” Sandy says. “I have memories; those won’t go.”

And, as a resident of La Loma Village, now whenever Sandy hosts a party for friends, the community’s life enrichment and culinary staff handle all the arrangements, right down to the place settings.

She says the process felt freeing. Ultimately, she decided to donate to Sun Health because of the caring way her items were treated. She hopes her items, especially the crystal and china, are purchased by someone who will enjoy them as much as she has.

“I loved entertaining and I loved to cook, and so I used them and enjoyed them and have happy memories of all those things,” Sandy says. “So it was time to let someone else enjoy them.”

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