My Life, My Words: LaDeana Cook — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
“I’ve been on staff here for eight, eight-and-a-half years. I’m very much like a volunteer. Even though we get paid to be here, we don’t get paid much, but it fits right into things that I enjoy. First and foremost, I enjoy the customers. I’m very much a people person. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s new every day.
“We take care of a range of things from bringing donations in the front door and the back door to going through them to taking things upstairs to hauling it to the trailer to helping out in the office to helping out with the register. We’re all responsible for trying to learn as much of the organization as we can.
“It’s been open for 31 years. It started out in a one-car garage, and it built up from there. It started out as the Salvation Army, but they only got to keep 10 percent of the profits for Moffat County, so a bunch of ladies got together, formed a board and started the Community Budget Center.
“We see everything from clothing to wineglasses and everything in between. One of the biggest things we have right now is somebody donated a Michael Ricker pewter chess set, and it’s up on display. We don’t know how to price it because on the Internet it says it’s like $3,500. We live in such a small community, it’s going to be hard to get that for it. Being non-profit, all of our money goes back out to the community, so it’d really be nice to get as much as we can for that.
“I’m from Texas originally. My family is all in Austin, and I grew up mostly in Amarillo. Long ways away. We moved here in November 2000.
“Oh, my gosh, it’s different everywhere. I’m from a big city and this is a small town, small community. You have to work to get into a community, which I think everybody should do. The biggest change for me was going to the grocery store and seeing $40,000 trucks with guns in the back window and a dead animal lying in the back. But, that’s a way of life here.
“We don’t get snow in Texas like here. If we did get snow in Amarillo, even a bad snow storm is gone in three days, maybe four. Here, once it hits, it’s here. It took me a while to enjoy it. At first, I was very apprehensive, I didn’t know how to drive in it, obviously. You have to get acclimated to it and learn how to dress. Snow shoes, good socks, keeping your hands warm, your head warm, the whole nine yards.
“Sending your kids to school, they’ve got to have everything that’s required for them to go out and play. One of my sons was born in Texas and one was born here, so they’ve grown up here. My oldest boy is 11 and he’s been here since he was just a few months old, and my youngest is 10, and he still thinks it’s normal to be barefoot in the snow. But, they’ve already figured it out.
“I like getting people into the store and looking at the reactions of the donated items they can purchase. People get really excited coming here, and hopefully we can keep our prices where everybody can have a decent Christmas.
“Christmas brings out this joy for people, like to come in and buy a tin and then go home and make cookies to give that as a gift is a great thing. Secondhand stuff is always a good thing to give. We have a great customer base here, they come in all year long, but to see them come in and go, ‘Oh, my goodness, look at this,’ and then be able to give somebody a little something they might not have been able to before.
“With the economy the way it is, this year, to me, shouldn’t be a big spending year. It should be more about the littler things and spending time with family and friends. We’ve had people come in looking for one specific thing and walk out with a tree and a few other things they weren’t expecting to find but did, and that makes it really nice. We had a pink Christmas tree here, maybe three-feet tall and we could’ve sold 15 of them if we’d had that many because you have one person who wants it and as soon as it’s off the shelf, other people are saying, ‘Well, where’s that pink Christmas?’ We get a lot of donated trees, and by the end of the season, they’re usually all gone because we can keep them at a decent price.
“I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my family. I’ll get to see my daughter and my grandson and my boys and see some close friends. To me, that’s important. I haven’t had Christmas with my daughter in a couple years. We’re going to Texas, so that’s going to be fun. The holiday season, it makes people happy and brings family together with the decorating of the tree or the smells in the air.”