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Volunteers Make Fabulous Finds Run

Kathey Coombs and Mary McIntyre run the weekly New Eyes for the Needy sale.

If it's a Thursday, you're sure to find Kathey Coombs and Mary McIntyre at New Eyes for the Needy.

You'll find the two Millburn-Short Hills residents among the jewelry cases upstairs for the weekly Fabulous Finds sale. Volunteers for New Eyes for seven years, they chair the sale together. And at its recent fund-raiser, New Eyes for the Needy honored the two volunteers for their work.

Coombs grew up in Short Hills and her mother would work at New Eyes as part of her work with the Junior League. "I can't say what she did, though," she said. Then seven years ago she was looking for new volunteer work  when she joined the Fabulous Finds sale as a pricer and eventually as a sales clerk.

McIntyre said volunteering only requires two hours per week as a sales person, but now she's working 10 hours per week as she helps price and organize the weekly sale.

"I feel like I'm making a contribution to something," she said. "It's amazing that (New Eyes) gives away so many donated glasses."

New Eyes sells donated jewelry and other items for its weekly Fabulous Finds sale, which is every Thursday except during the summer and December when it's on hiatus. The money raised from the sale goes to New Eyes' work to donate glasses to needy people around the world. New Eyes' work has helped more than 7 million people around the world since 1932.

Coombs said every cent raised during the weekly sale goes toward glasses for people in need. McIntyre said there is a rise in the need for eyeglasses, so the work is especially needed now.

Included in the duo's work is sorting through the donated jewelry, which can range from costume jewelry to something more precious. Coombs said it's exciting when they find an 18 carat piece for obvious reasons.

"If we think it has some more worth, we take it to someone to test and advise us," she said. "We then price it at one-third of what it would sell (on the market)."

McIntyre said it's always gratifying when sale patrons find what they want and are pleased. Plus there are the regular customers. One woman buys something every week for the nurses who take care of her husband. Another woman buys for the patients at the nursing home in which she works.

"We want to get more people to know about the real quality you can find here," she said. "It's as good as anything else you can buy. If needed, you can clean it."

The sale raises about $1,000 per week for New Eyes for the Needy and sometimes goes as high as $1,500. For every $60 raised, New Eyes can buy a new pair of glasses for someone in need.

But the amount of items donated has dropped in the last few years. Even the amount of costume jewelry donated has dropped. Coombs said people sell their items themselves through a jewelry store or online. Plus the economy is making people hold onto a piece of jewelry longer and not replace it.

The Fabulous Finds sale is on Thursdays at 1-3 p.m. Saturday sales are scheduled for March 20 and June 5 at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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