Onancock, Va – In January, the hard-working and generous volunteers who run the Althea Shelton Carousel Gift Shop – a fundraising project of the Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital Auxiliary – presented the Auxiliary with a check for $12,000 which were the 2017 proceeds from the shop.
The Gift Shop’s contribution to the Auxiliary is a vital part of the Auxiliary’s fundraising efforts which include the year-round Gift Shop and the annual Hospital Ball, Antique Show and Festival of Lights. Recently, nearly $100,000 was donated by the Auxiliary to the hospital for the purchase of vascular ultrasound equipment.
The Carousel Gift Shop started decades ago in a closet-sized room at the hospital in Nassawadox and has now turned into a beautiful and thriving retail space.
The shop is named for Althea Shelton who was the driving force that brought the gift shop to life in the Nassawadox hospital. Over the years, Shelton managed the volunteer sales associates, ordered inventory and helped the shop to grow and thrive. Upon Shelton’s retirement from managing the shop, the Auxiliary honored Shelton by re-naming the shop after her.
There have been many changes over the years, but perhaps the biggest came last year with the building of the new hospital. Lori Ridington, then buyer/chairperson for the shop, worked with the hospital’s designers and architects to plan the space and to select display fixtures, lighting, and flooring that would create a warm, inviting space. All this was done while she continued to run the existing shop.
Perhaps the most striking feature that Ridington helped incorporate into the new space is a restored row boat, touchingly re-named the Miss Althea. Permanently docked at the gift shop, the handmade boat was originally made by George Schoolfield of Nassawadox. She was well-used by the time Ridington found her, so Ridington enlisted local contractor George Bravo who volunteered his time and craftsmanship to restore her beauty.
“This boat symbolizes so many things,” said Ridington. “We felt that it was important that we bring this little piece of Nassawadox to Onancock with the move; the name recognizes the hard work of Althea Shelton, who opened the first gift shop in the hospital; and this piece came together only with the love and support of our community.”
An extra design touch in the shop that adds a distinctive Eastern Shore flavor—the names of nearby barrier islands are included as a border along the walls near the ceiling.
Another change that recently took place was the naming of a new gift shop buyer/chairperson. Replacing Lori Ridington will be Melody Mackin, who has worked in the gift shop since the fall of 2017. Prior to her move to the Eastern Shore in 2011, Mackin ran her own home décor and gift store in Maryland.
“I’m thrilled to have an energetic and engaged group of volunteers working in the shop,” said Mackin. “They are also some of our best customers, coming in early and shopping before their shift starts.”
“I’m also excited about the continued challenge of finding unique items, especially using local artisans,” she added. As for the future, “We are now carrying prints and original art by Abbi Custis, a line of pet collars and leashes that I know will be a hit, and fashion apparel, beach cover-ups, handbags, garden gifts, fun socks and more.”
100% of profits from the Althea Shelton Carousel Gift Shop go directly to hospital improvements that affect patient care such as education for team members, new equipment, or amenities in hospital public spaces. Gift Shop hours are Monday- Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Beginning in mid-March, the shop will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering at the shop may contact email@example.com.