READY FOR ACTION: Debi Nichol, Invermere Thrift Store volunteer; Kerry Jopp, Invermere Health Care Auxiliary president; and Jo Anne Myers, health care auxiliary secretary pose with a trauma boom. This piece of equipment carries many medical services needed for a patient in acute care, including heart monitor, intravenous line and oxygen.


Its a simple plan: recycle your old stuff and save lives, potentially your own.

That concept has been working for the Invermere Health Care Auxiliary since 1975, when the Invermere Thrift Store first opened its doors. Staffed by hard-working volunteers, the thrift store raises funds used to improve health care for valley residents and visitors.

Most recently, funds raised from thrift store donations have resulted in a fully-equipped Acute Trauma Room in the new emergency ward at the hospital. Thats where seriously-injured people, including accident victims, are first taken to be assessed.

In the past, these patients were often dispatched by ambulance to another hospital because local doctors didnt have the tools to do an accurate diagnosis.

Now their job is easier, thanks to equipment such as a $45,000 portable ultrasound machine which can detect internal bleeding, for example. And it was paid for through donations of used clothing, household goods, books and other items to the local thrift store. In the past year alone, the thrift store has raised about $75,000 for the hospital.

In September, the auxiliary joined forces with the Columbia Valley Arts Council to host a new event called Art From the Attic, which sold almost 1,000 donated new and used art works. The one-day sale drew 1,200 visitors and raised more than $15,000 that was split between the two groups.

More donations of unwanted art started arriving the very next day, according to Event Manager Elinor Florence. Fortunately Chuck Newhouse donated the use of a mini-storage unit which is rapidly filling up in preparation for next years sale, she said.

We are accepting everything from empty frames to inexpensive department store prints to original paintings, she said. Last years sale proved there is a market for everything.

The arts council also put their share of the Art From the Attic proceeds to good use, said President Chris Evans. This event made an important contribution towards the operating costs of the Pynelogs Art Gallery, he said. We display the work of local artists, including exhibitions from the valley elementary schools and David Thompson Secondary School; as well as staging concerts, such as the recent Open Mike evening for emerging local performers.

Organizers are reminding all residents and second homeowners to drop off their art donations at the thrift store, or call 250-342-0444 or email [email protected] for free pickup. Please mark September 1st, 2012 on your calendar for next years Art From the Attic.