WEST LAFAYETTE -- Hurry! Get your tickets and come aboard! Actually, you won't need any tickets for this train -- but the coordinators for a recently-established, non-profit organization are looking for donations and volunteers. The two "conductors" (coordinators) for the Charity Train are Teri Misener and Jessi Marcincavage.

Misener's family own and operate the Unusual Junction on State Route 36, near West Lafayette.

The Charity Train's mission is to help local charities, as well as help the community. The Charity Train will be offering quality, donated items for sale to the public. However, proceeds from the sale, goes directly to a charitable organization of the donor's choice or to a local charitable organization that is in great need at that time (if the donor does not designate where they would like the proceeds to go).

The organization's plan is to start off with a "Charity Train Donation Drive" tentatively scheduled for April 18. The organization is planning to have the drive at a local, convenient location for the specified date/time so that the community can drop off donations. They will be accepting household items, antique/collectible items, outdoor/gardening items, clothing/jewelry, fashion apparel, childrens' toys, baby items, furniture, appliances (that are in good working order), overstock retail items and discontinued merchandise. (Note: They will not accept any type of weapons or firearms.)

Misener said the Charity Train will be offering for sale "most anything that you would find at a garage sale or thrift shop." All donated items are tax deductible and receipts will be provided for each donation.

Anyone having items that they wish to donate, does not have to wait until the donation drive takes place. Misener said, "They can start bringing in items as soon as possible, we are ready to start accepting items tomorrow." Items can be dropped off at the Unusual Junction (there will be a drop off trailer/bin located near the front entrance) or pick-up of items can be arranged for those individuals that have no transportation available.

Once items arrive at the drive site or at the Unusual Junction, they will be tagged and designated with a price and a code that will specify which charity the proceeds will go to, according to the donor's wishes. Then items will be arranged and categorized in one of the train cars. Larger items, such as furniture and appliances, will be showcased in a nearby building behind the train cars. The public will enter the train cars, then have access to the building from that point.

"Everything will be easily accessed and convenient as possible," Misener said.

The organization is going to be a benefit to local residents as well as the charities, Misener said.

"Individuals are going to be able to come to the Charity Train and purchase some great, quality items and at bargain prices. Who doesn't need a bargain these days? It's going to be a win-win situation for everyone. People are now shopping at garage sales, and thrift shops more than ever," she said.

The organization is looking for volunteers to help at the collection and distribution sites. They will need volunteers for pick-up, packing/unpacking, cleaning, pricing, as well as performing cashier and customer assistance tasks. The volunteer positions are per gratis since the organization is non-profit.

Coordinators, nor volunteers, will be "picking and reserving" any of the donated items. Misener adds, "Every item will be sent to the train car or show room areas. That way, everyone has equal chance at purchasing these bargains."

The official opening date for Charity Train to open it's doors to the public is May 1. The hours will be the same as the Unusual Junction, open seven days per week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Misener feels that this is an opportune time.

"People are now starting to spring clean, they are ready to discard items," she said.

"The Charity Train is not about the Unusual Junction, this is just the site for donation/distribution. This organization is about neighbors helping neighbors, everyone working together with the same mission plan," she said.

For further information or to arrange pick-up for donations, contact Teri Misener at 545-5005 or Jessi Marcincavage at (740) 202-0421.