On an ordinary day in 1949, a young woman named Sally Montoya started volunteering with the Christmas Basket program in Powell. It was a simple act of kindness as the 19-year-old sought to help others in need.
But here’s what made Sally’s willingness to volunteer so unique: She didn’t stop.
She volunteered through her 20s, then 30s, into her 40s, 50s and, well, you get the idea.
As she approaches her 90th birthday, Sally has served this community for nearly 70 years. Generations of local families have been touched by her kindness, devotion and countless hours of service.
“Sally has given a lifetime of unconditional care and love to those needing help,” wrote Dave Blevins, chairman of the Powell Council of Community Services, in 2012. “We don’t know what we’d do without her. She’s our saint.”
While Sally has worked year-round to help others, we always write about Sally at Christmastime, because she makes the holidays merrier for those in need. At Sally’s Boutique, which opens Saturday in Powell, everything is free. You don’t have to show an ID or meet certain guidelines to qualify. You simply show up and help yourself to whatever you need, whether it’s a pair of jeans, baby clothes or a toaster.
For Sally and her small team of volunteers, known as her elves, this Christmas season is bittersweet. Amid the joyous season of giving, Sally’s Boutique is coming to an end. This Christmas marks the final one for the longtime boutique.
The closure will leave a void in Powell and the region, as the boutique draws people from surrounding communities as well.
Over the decades, Sally has seen the need for assistance grow.
“It wasn’t big like this when we first started,” Montoya said last month.
Beginning Saturday, the boutique will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day — including Christmas — until closing on Jan. 5.
Whether you’ve received much-needed items from Sally’s Boutique or donated to the cause, many of us have been touched by Sally’s generosity and kindness over the years.
While the boutique is closing, Sally and her elves will continue working with Toys for Tots and the Powell Council of Community Services.
Our community will never be able to truly thank Sally for her devotion over the past 70 years. But we can try to follow her lead by finding ways to serve and give back this holiday season.
Even though the boutique won’t carry on in future years, we know Sally’s example of service will.