Shop at the Boutique: Gorgeous, Festive, and Fabulous
Claire Rij was a vital part of the Cancer Support Community even before we opened our doors in 2004. As a founding board member, Claire’s charitable donations, paired with gifts of her time, friendship, and extensive expertise have helped us provide support for more than 22,000 people affected by cancer in the Lehigh valley.
What makes Claire’s commitment to the Cancer Support Community so special is her ability and willingness to share our mission with the wider community in meaningful ways. One way that she does this is through her affiliation with the Boutique at the Rink, an annual sale of clothing and household items to benefit organizations committed to cancer care.
The Boutique at the Rink was the brainchild of Mrs. Lewis Foy and Mrs. Stewart Cort, who were married to Bethlehem Steel executives. The very first sale took place in 1974. Over the years, the sale evolved, growing from the size of the snack bar area at Bethlehem’s Municipal Ice Rink, to a tent outside near the pool, to the grand operation it is today, encompassing the entire rink.
When Claire was asked to take over coordination of the annual sale in 2008, in some ways, it was like starting from scratch. Hangers, clothing racks, and cash registers were needed, not to mention volunteers. Claire assessed this daunting task and decided to take it on. “We received wonderful support and many articles of new clothing from Jane Roncoroni Fine Clothing and American Hairlines.”
Claire says. “They supplied many of the hangers and racks, and each made very generous donations of clothing. We are highly selective about our goods. Anything that isn’t first rate is recycled and repurposed.
“Before I agreed to coordinate the event, I stipulated that part of the proceeds benefit the Cancer Support Community,” she explains. “Clearly we have good care for people diagnosed here in the Valley, and St. Luke’s Hospice does a wonderful job caring for patients and families during the end of life stage. I saw the need for psycho-social support, and the Cancer Support Community as a logical piece in the spectrum of care.”
Claire’s vision of the Cancer Support Community as a critical part of cancer care, and her dedication to sharing that vision, has allowed the organization to reach thousands of people over the years.
"What’s truly remarkable about the event is the commitment of the volunteers,” Claire shares. “There are two sisters, one in her eighties, and the other in her nineties, who have volunteered since the beginning. Helen Margie has been here since day one, Claire counts on her fingers. “And Judy Rusk has been involved for many years, if not since inception. Our volunteers know their stuff.”
Claire smiles. “We get high school students who volunteer to meet their community service requirement, and many keep right on working even after they’ve put in their required hours. There are teenagers working alongside seniors ranging in age from 70 to 90 years old. The camaraderie is inspiring.”
The sale ends on Saturday, June 2, and two days later, all is back to normal, and it’s as if the Boutique has mysteriously disappeared. But, Claire’s dedication, and the commitment of the many volunteers involved, remains steadfast.
Donations of new and gently used items, including vintage and fine men’s, ladies’ and children’s clothing and accessories, as well as shoes, jewelry, toys, house wares, antiques, linens, and collectibles can be dropped off at the Bethlehem Municipal Ice Rink from May 2 through the 19 between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, except Wednesday, when items can be dropped off between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Proceeds from the Boutique at the Rink will go to St. Luke’s Cancer Center, Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley and St. Luke’s Hospice.