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Treasure hunting

Ashby Ponds’ thrift shop a gold mine for bargain hunters

Created date

January 4th, 2018
Treasure Chest organizer Joanne Harney shows off the variety of keepsakes offered at a recent sale.

Treasure Chest organizer Joanne Harney shows off the variety of keepsakes offered at a recent sale.


For experienced bargain shoppers, January is the hottest month of the year to find post-holiday, priced-to-sell items. Yet, for shoppers of the Treasure Chest thrift shop at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., every month offers unbeatable opportunities to find special treasures at rock-bottom prices.

And of even greater importance, every cent raised through purchases at the Treasure Chest is donated to those in need. 

Since opening its doors nine years ago, the Treasure Chest has raised $130,000 in support of Ashby Ponds’ philanthropic efforts. Funds are distributed to the Resident Care Fund, which assists residents who experience a genuine and unforeseen change in their financial resources for reasons beyond their control; the Scholars’ Fund, which helps the community’s student workers finance their higher education; and the Staff Appreciation Fund, which provides bonuses for employees. 

“It’s a wonderful way to give back to the community,” says Joanne Harney who, along with neighbor Frank Maccini, runs the store.

Working for each other

Housed in the Meadowlark residence building, the Ashby Ponds Treasure Chest features two dedicated rooms stocked with an assortment of small appliances, jewelry, kitchen items, collectibles, and home decor. A third room features furniture including tables, bookcases, and desks. Staffed by dedicated volunteers, the store is open the fourth Wednesday and Thursday of every month. 

“We accept many different types of donations, as space allows, with the exception of beds, couches, and clothing,” says Joanne. “All items come from resident donations, so we never know what we will have in the store at any given time. But I believe that is one of the reasons the store is so popular. You never know what treasure you will find.”

“Many of us moved to Ashby Ponds with too many things,” says Frank. “Donating those excess items to the Treasure Chest allows us to get rid of the clutter and do a little good at the same time.”

Throughout the month, community members reach out to both Joanne and Frank with their donations. A dedicated team of volunteers then spends hours tagging the items in preparation for the end-of-the-month sale. 

“None of this would be possible without the help of our wonderful volunteers,” says Joanne, who leads the organization of nonfurniture donations. 

Volunteer Millicent MacKeith ran the gift shop at the Virginia Hospital Center prior to moving to Ashby Ponds a little over a year ago. She is now Joanne’s “right hand” when it comes to organizing the monthly sale.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” says Millicent. “We have a wonderful group of volunteers. Everyone is really committed to raising money for their neighbors, our young employees, and all our wonderful staff.”

Frank, who handles the furniture donations, also works with a core group of dedicated volunteers who often clean up and occasionally repair donated items. They also direct residents to the community woodshop if an item needs more than a quick repair. 

“If we can fix it in order to sell it, we do,” says volunteer Jud Walton. “I enjoy the opportunity to help out with such a great group of people.”

Ashby Ponds staff members aid the Treasure Chest by transporting furniture donations from apartment homes to the sale. Community member Ike Zupovitz, known as the “heavy lifter,” also makes himself available to bring a purchased item to a resident’s home. 

“If I can help someone, I will,” Ike says. “People get pretty excited when they find a piece of furniture at a great price.”

Diamond in the rough

On the day of the sale, the Treasure Chest first opens from 11:45 to 12:45 exclusively for Ashby Ponds staff members. 

“It’s a decision we made as a group years ago,” says Frank. “We felt it was important to give back to the staff who do so much for us.”

While staff members shop, community members line up for the chance to be among the first to peruse the month’s offerings.

“We distribute tickets with numbers on them to accommodate the line of residents that begins to form,” says Joanne. 

The Treasure Chest opens to residents and the public from 12:45 to 3:45 on Wednesday and 10:00 to noon on Thursday. In addition, the Treasure Chest opens during the annual holiday bazaar in early December. 

Whatever is not sold after three months is offered for free or donated to a thrift shop in Leesburg.

With countless hours dedicated to making the Treasure Chest successful, the volunteers consider the effort a labor of love.

“When you consider the fact that we’ve raised over $130,000 selling most items for under a dollar, it’s a truly remarkable accomplishment,” says Joanne. “And the best part is that we are helping our neighbors and our staff. It’s our way of giving back.”