Cleora “Perk” Ramsay at “Perk’s Place” in Rocky’s Hardware in Bath, where she’s operated a nonprofit indoor yard sale for more than two decades. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BATH — Cleora “Perk” Ramsay has raised thousands of dollars for local causes over the past 23 years from items she’s sold at two colorful end cap displays tucked in a corner of a hardware store.

The Bath octogenarian, who has worked at Rocky’s Hardware – formerly Roger’s Hardware – for 40 years, has been allowed by the ownership to sell ornate crafts she’s made at home, as well as used books, plants, and other small items donated by the community through the indoor yard sale at “Perk’s Place,” with proceeds going to charity.

Ramsay — whose nickname comes from her maiden name, Perkins — first supported the parent-teacher organization for the Bath school system, before the city joined Regional School Unit 1. Since 2010 her focus has been Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick, as inspired by her son-in-law Eric London, a longtime “Big.”

Perk Ramsay’s homemade decorations, as well as other items donated by community members, line one of two end caps at Perk’s Place. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

Having raised more than $23,000 for BBBS in nearly 10 years, Ramsay will be in the spotlight at the organization’s Big Awards ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 11, where she will be honored with the first-ever “Perk Ramsey Acts of Service Award.”

“I think that’s pretty nice; I really appreciate that,” Ramsay said in an interview Nov. 21 at Perk’s Place.

Ramsay said her interest in BBBS has been maintained by “what they do for others.”

“Because we did have a couple of clerks in the store at one time (who had) Big Brothers/Big Sisters for their kids, and that triggered me more and more every time I heard” about those connections between youths and adults, she said.

“They write me wonderful little notes” when she contributes to BBBS, Perk said with a smile.

The night of the Dec. 11 ceremony, London will receive BBBS’s “Big of the Year” award. His wife Ann – Ramsay’s daughter – said she has enjoyed “helping out Mum, so she can continue doing this.”

The mother-daughter team arranges items seasonally, with decorations applicable to whichever holiday is coming up, Ann London said. “We filter in things here and there to try to hit everyone’s liking,” she explained.

“We just don’t put prices too high,” Ramsay said. “It’s like a benefit both ways, and that’s how we keep it.”

Items are usually priced between 25 cents and $5, and marked “Big,” so those proceeds will be kept separate from merchandise in the rest of the store.

“I’m very impressed with (Ramsay’s) work,” customer Neill Johnston said as he perused the end caps. “She sold me a cardinal and a goldfinch that are just the prettiest embroidery that I’ve ever seen. … Those are prominently displayed on our mantelpiece now.”

“Awesome!” Ramsay exclaimed in response.

The award in her mother’s name “couldn’t be more deserving,” London said. “She is very kind and generous, above-and-beyond what you can believe.”

Lindsay MacDonald, executive director of the Bath/Brunswick BBBS, echoed those sentiments Nov. 22.

“It is wonderful that Perk and her family members who help her and the folks at Rocky’s Hardware … have been so supportive of this,” she said. “It’s a very creative way to raise money … and it has provided a very steady monthly residual income for our organization that we appreciate so very much.”

With each Big/Little match costing about $1,000 – due to recruitment, vetting of volunteers, matching of adults and youths, and monthly ongoing support by program coordinators – Ramsay’s $23,000 contribution has facilitated 23 matches, MacDonald said.

The award in Ramsay’s name “was my idea to do something for Perk,” she said. “… We can give it out any time now moving forward when we feel there’s an individual in the community that should receive this. It may not be an annual thing, but it will definitely be something that lives on in Perk’s name.”

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