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Enjoy Magazine

Put On The Cheer

03/19/2013 11:53AM ● By Kerri Regan

Ugly Sweaters Benefit Northern Valley Catholic Social Service

Story: Kerri Regan Photos: Bret Christensen

Say “ugly sweater,” and most folks’ thoughts turn to smiling reindeer and glittery trees.

At the Second Time Around thrift shop on North Market Street, however, you can set your sights much higher. Or, in this case, lower.

Envision, if you will, a black sweater featuring a pirate parrot dressed in its very own ugly Christmas sweater. Or a three-toned blue pullover with a Santa Claus stocking sewn on, which serves as a hands-free holder for the authentic red Solo cup tucked inside.

These gems are among the dozens of gaudy conversation starters that can be had for about 10 bucks apiece at Second Time Around, a thrift shop run by Northern Valley Catholic Social Service. Garland, silk flowers and hot pink monkeys are among the outlandish embellishments that creative volunteers have used in their quest to give you the edge in your office’s ugly Christmas sweater contest.

It wasn’t so long ago that holiday sweaters donated to Second Time Around gathered dust on the hangers, then got put away for another year. “We’d put them out for Christmas and no one would buy them,” says Kathy Ripley, the thrift store’s program manager.

Then last year, as ugly Christmas sweater parties grew as a national trend, 70 sweaters were snapped up in three days. “All of a sudden there were all these requests, so we went all out and started decorating our own,” Ripley says. “We had to haul butt and make some every day. We use craft items and hot glue and just get outrageous with them.”

These crafty embellishers range in age from their 20s to 95. They get together for a few hours at a time and let their inner gaudy goddess run wild. “One of our ladies got ill, but she said, ‘Bring me some rickrack and glitter,’ and she made them at home,” Ripley says.

By the time Santa made his annual trek last year, the shop had sold almost 200 sweaters. They’re planning to sell even more this year. “It’s a year-round effort, with volunteers doing their best to make the most hideous Christmas sweaters they can,” says Jake Mangas, development director for Northern Valley Catholic Social Service. His wife is the proud owner of one such sweater (it’s bedecked with gold tinsel and beads).

“Normally you’d see an older crowd in the thrift store, but we have all these college-age students and youth groups. They’re all here for the ugly Christmas sweaters,” Mangas says.

Second Time Around Thrift Shop 872 N. Market St., Redding 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday