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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Ben Goff Desaray Botteron of Gentry volunteered on Friday during a Black Friday sale at the Helping Hands thrift store in Bentonville.

— Desaray Botteron began helping others to fulfill a camp requirement, but as she grew up, volunteering became a life choice.

Botteron, 17, of Gentry, volunteers nearly every week at Helping Hands, a nonprofit thrift store in Bentonville. She has been volunteering since she was 7 years old.

"At first it was getting points for Camp War Eagle, but then I got hooked. I enjoyed it, so I continued," Botteron said while taking a quick break from her many Black Friday duties.

Helping Hands has been in Bentonville for 40 years, said Bill Crawford, executive director of the store.

"We use the proceeds from the thrift store in Bentonville to help people in Benton County," he said.

The nonprofit group uses store proceeds to alleviate essential expenses of folks in need by helping pay their rent, medical expenses and utilities, including water, gas and electric, Crawford said.

Helping Hands also provides food and clothing through a voucher program.

"We sent out 220 Thanksgiving food baskets Monday and Tuesday," Crawford said. "We'll do holiday baskets again toward Christmastime."

Mary Gray, a Bentonville resident, frequently shops at Helping Hands.

"I like the volunteers, and I like the way they treat lower-income people," Gray said. "[They're] very helpful."

Helping Hands was bustling Friday, and Botteron stayed busy with a lighthearted, bouncy attitude while bagging purchases at the register. She also helped wrap Christmas items that children bought during the Children's Christmas Shopping Adventure, held every Black Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.

"They're taken into our Christmas room and they are each allowed to pick four items that they can give as gifts, and the cost for all four items is just $1." Crawford said.

Sheree Miller has volunteered at Helping Hands for 21 years and is friends with Botteron's grandmother, Kim Botteron of Bentonville.

"She's the one who got Desaray interested," Kim Botteron said.

Desaray Botteron has grown up to become an invaluable part of Helping Hands, Miller said.

"Desaray is a joy to work with, to volunteer with," Miller said.

Botteron, who is home-schooled and works at the Gentry McDonald's, said volunteering gives young people purpose.

"It gets them in the mindset of, 'OK, I have a responsibility, I can help others, I can make a difference,'" she said.

General News on 11/30/2016

Print Headline: Gentry teen pitches in to support Arkansas charity store

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