Carney Hospital volunteer Mary Keeley of Dorchester and longtime staffer Ann Hart of Walpole are pictured at the recently renovated Carney Gift Shop. Photo by Ed Forry.
Neighborhood shoppers looking for a special holiday gift have a new option in Lower Mills. Caritas Carney Hospital has renovated and enlarged its main lobby Gift Shop, and a new manager has brought an expanded variety of items to the mix.
Ann Hart, a 34 year employee at the Carney, now oversees the Gift Shop, and she brings a personal touch to the offerings.
"I came in and brought in different products than what was here before," she says. "We have the 'Willow Tree Angels,' here, and the 'Byers Choice Carolers.' A lot of them are collectibles, like 'Biddys and Coots,' and 'Forever in Blue Jeans' is another line that's a collectible."
Also on sale are scarves, gloves, hats, umbrellas and men's and women's watches, candles and wine glasses.
"I have a lot of holiday gifts, little things like these. I try to keep the prices under $25 just so it's affordable for everybody, especially in this economy. We have a good gift selection for Christmas, including candles, candy and stuffed animals. Plus a good line of greeting cards-everything from get well to happy birthday."
The little shop, located in the hospital's main lobby, was at one time designed as a convenient stop for family and friends visiting patients on the medical floors, but now under Hart's direction there's a range of items that often appear on every shopping list.
"We're just starting to sell Phillips Candy here, including sugar-free, and we're going to be stocking that candy here," she says. There's also a display of old-fashioned "penny candy," now selling two for a quarter. Volunteer Mary Keeley take care of the candy display. There's also an expansive magazine rack and a modest selection of books. "One of our big sellers is jewelry," she says.
Hart says she has found that many people attend a 9 o'clock Sunday Mass in the hospital chapel. "I came up to Mass last Sunday and came down before the people came out of mass. I ran down here real quick, opened the doors and turned on the lights, and everybody was coming it, so it was real nice. And many said they would be back."
After Christmas, the gift and greeting card inventory will change, she says.
"We'll get ready for Valentine's Day, and then for St. Patrick's Day, then Easter." All the Christmas items now on display in the shop's windows are for sale, except for a collectible nativity set, which is being offered in a Dec. 19 drawing, with chance tickets available throughout the next several weeks.
The shop formerly was operated by a Carney volunteer group, the 'Ladies of Charity'. Now it is maintained by the Carney Hospital Foundation, which has formed a support group, 'Friends of Caritas Carney Hospital.'
"We're looking for volunteers for the shop," she says. "They can staff the shop and do other little fund-raisers for the hospital. We have 15 volunteers right now."
Shop hours are 9 a.m.to 7 p.m. weekdays. All funds raised in the gift shop support the programs and services at the hospital.