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Cheer Shop celebrates 50 years

The Cheer Shop, inside Atrium Health Stanly, celebrated quite the milestone last year as it celebrated its 50th anniversary in June.

Established in 1970 as a “happy haven” for hospital staff to relax and enjoy a snack, the shop is a free-standing retail store owned not by the hospital but by the volunteers who work there, said Kim Davis, director of volunteer services at the hospital and head of the Cheer Shop. The shop contains items such as baby clothes, kids toys, snacks, gifts, flowers and jewelry.

The Cheer Shop offers a wide range of items from toys for babies and young children to jewelry and flowers. Photo courtesy of Kim Davis.

The purpose of the shop, as stated in its charter, is “to promote and support the hospital; to promote health careers to worthy students through scholarships for education; to operate a shop in the hospital for the sale of merchandise for patients, visitors and staff; and to engage in activity for the improvement of health conditions in Stanly County.”

The founders of the shop were Lucinda Brown, Daisy Fort and J. Crenshaw Thompson, Davis said.

Albemarle lawyer Charles Brown, Lucinda’s husband, said that in late 1969 and early 1970, she “invited a group to meet at the Brown home and discuss the proposal for a cheer shop at the Stanly County Hospital. The proposal gained support among members of the hospital board and those in the medical community.”

Brown said his wife later served as head of the Cheer Shop and also as president of the Hospital Auxiliary.

The proceeds of the shop go to its scholarship fund, which awards scholarships to graduating seniors at all Stanly County high schools, including those at Gray Stone and Stanly Early College, planning to pursue careers in any healthcare-related field. The shop normally awards four to six seniors each year, each totaling $1,000. This past year, due to the pandemic, only one scholarship was presented.

Brown said his family has funded the Lucinda Courtney Brown Scholarship through the Cheer Shop each year since Lucinda’s death in 1981.

“We have fundraisers that we do plus any proceeds from the Cheer Shop go towards the scholarship foundation,” Davis said.

About 45 volunteers typically help run the shop, which is still open despite the coronavirus pandemic, though Davis is the only person working right now. The Cheer Shop is currently open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m but as volunteers gradually come back to work, the store hours will soon be extended until 4 p.m, Davis said. Masks are required for anyone that enters.

Davis wanted to thank gift shop coordinator Kristie Huber and volunteer treasurer Kathy Diggs for all of their contributions and help over the years.

The shop has meant a lot to its volunteers and medical professionals during its 50 years of existence.

“I have enjoyed working there for more than 20 years,” said volunteer Martha Lowder. “I always tell shoppers that this is the best gift shop in town. It provides a service to hospital employees as well as visitors. As I volunteer, I feel that I’m helping to raise money for scholarships for local students. This makes me happy.”

“I volunteered at the Cheer Shop for over 25 years and saw how much it meant to both the hospital employees who would come in for candy and gifts and visiting citizens who came in for gifts for others and also for themselves,” said volunteer Sandy Rogers. “The gift shop has always been a great source for so many reasons. For me personally, I enjoyed working at the gift shop because just about every time I was there someone would come in that I hadn’t seen in a long time, and we could catch up.  It was always a great way for me to stay in touch with a wonderful variety of people.”

Respiratory Therapist Deborah Geer said the shop is her “go-to for last minute gifts and special holiday items,” while nurse Winslow Mullis said “I can always count on the Cheer Shop to give me a little happiness and a sweet treat during my shift.”

“Spreading cheer is our number one goal,” volunteer Diane Jordan said.

Additional volunteers are needed to help work the Cheer Shop. If people are interested, they should contact Davis at 980-323-4387.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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