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Thursday November 27, 2014
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Full of Heart

 

continued

Harris collects surplus household goods, furniture, and clothing. She distributes these items to the homeless, returning vets, shut-ins, single mothers, and others in need through her nonprofit, nondenominational charity, Hearts Community Service.

The crowded interior of the old house testifies to Harris's disdain for waste. The hallway holds precariously stacked bags and boxes of clothing and household goods. Three main rooms store furniture, small appliances, clothing, dishes, pots and pans, and knickknacks-all either donated or gleaned from the aftermath of estate and garage sales. The "sunshine room," dedicated to infants and children, is filled with clothing and toys. A small table is set for a children's tea party, while a stuffed dog stands sentry at the bathroom door. Inside, the tub is loaded with sheets and comforters waiting to be laundered and sent to new homes. More bags and boxes festoon the kitchen. A stove waits for repair near a large desk where volunteers do sorting.

Harris has short gray curls, a porcelain complexion, and lively blue eyes. She serves tea and homemade cookies on a china plate at an old mahogany table covered with a pink tablecloth-a ritual she performs with equal graciousness for clients, volunteers, and donors. The tea party/thrift store atmosphere and classical music on the radio are equally soothing and magical-as if Harris, like Mary Poppins, could transform any chaos she encounters into spit-spot order. Donna McDonald, a retired schoolteacher and un official Hearts program manager, has posted notes throughout the house that convey her opinion of the charity's founder: "Angel in Action."

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