Castor’s Opportunity Centre, or “Op Shop” as it is more commonly known, held a significant celebration on Sept. 22.
In conjunction with the centre’s annual Christmas sale, the Op Shop celebrated its 50th anniversary in operation.
An annual tradition, the Christmas sale had steeply discounted prices on all seasonal items in the shop.
As part of the additional celebration, most of the active volunteers were on hand, a cake was served and Mayor Richard Elhard attended, bringing greetings from the town.
The Op Shop began in May of 1972 as a way to locally recycle, keeping things out of the landfill and raise funds for local charities.
To date, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised by the volunteers of the organization with beneficiaries including the Castor and District Museum, Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue, the Castor Centennial Pool and many, many others.
“We try to get everybody over different years,” said one of the original volunteers of the organization, Erma Marquart.
The items the Op Shop sells are 100 per cent donated by community members, before they are organized then sold back to bargain shoppers.
With the exception of a small amount of money that goes back to the town to help with utilities, all funds raised are kept and donated back to the community every year.
Currently in their fourth home since their start, the Op Shop was originally in a town-owned building on Main Street near where Castor Value Drug Mart currently sits.
It moved into it’s current, and well known, space on 50 St. beside the swimming pool in 1988.
While the volunteers who run the Op Shop have changed over the decades, Marquart has been involved in the organization since its inception, though she has begun to step back in recent years.
“Every bit has been fun,” said Marquart, with a smile.
The Castor Op Shop typically operates from mid-spring through to mid-fall, closing over the snowy months when the weather tends to be at its worst.
For fall 2022, the last day of operation for the Op Shop was announced to be Sept. 29 but if the weather remains decent through October volunteers say they may remain open for a bit yet before they close for the season.
The beneficiary of the Op Shop’s 2022 fundraising season will be announced later in the fall.