Jean Sanders of Platteville celebrated her 75th birthday one day early.
Sanders and her husband, Bill, went to First Congregational United Church of Christ Friday ostensibly for an early celebration of her birthday.
Inside, to Jean’s surprise, were church members, volunteers from the Platteville Thrift Shop, and Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker, to give Sanders a Wisconsin Hero Award.
“We kind of tricked you,” said Walker, who has been presenting Wisconsin Hero Awards since 2012. “We know it’s your birthday, but we’re also here for a special award.”
“I thought I was celebrating my birthday, and this is one I’ll never forget,” said Sanders..
The Wisconsin Hero Award goes to people who “are eager to go the extra mile, take a stand for causes in which they believe, and use their time, effort and ideas to help make Wisconsin a better place.”
Sanders’ award is for her work as cofounder of the Thrift Shop, which started in the basement of the Municipal Building in April 1973. The Thrift Shop has been located at the former Jerry’s Flowers building on Lancaster Street since 2000 after being located in two Main Street storefronts.
Sanders is the only remaining living founder of the Thrift Shop.
“We have four children, and the Thrift Shop is like our fifth child,” she said.
“The volunteers and the board have always made the point, usually annually, that [volunteers] are what make this a success because there’s no way we could financially pay enough people to keep it running. Beyond business, all these proceeds go back towards the community.”