By Jessica Lovell
The local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store is doing much better thanks to some great community support, including the loan of a truck to fill in for one it lost in a fire. But it could still use some extra manpower.
The charity, which supplies furniture and household items to people leaving shelters and prisons, lost its truck and around five truckloads of furniture in a warehouse fire Oct. 20. It also lost its storage site. Though the organization is still looking for a site to store donated items, not long after the story appeared in the local media it had two offers of trucks to help with pickups and deliveries.
“It was a wonderful offer of assistance,” said Don Baran, president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul Guelph Particular Council, which oversees five local St. Vincent de Paul groups. “But that’s only part of the solution,” he said.
Shortreed Paper offered up a truck and driver on Mondays and Fridays, but the charity is still renting a truck to meet its needs on other days.
“The Shortreed gift is a gift and a very nice one, but it does not meet our needs,” said Baran. “We need our own vehicle available each day.”
The charity was also offered free use of a van for a year, courtesy of Guelph Nissan, but the vehicle was simply too small, said Baran.
Luckily, the organization has reserves that allow it to rent a truck until it finds out what the insurance payout will be on the vehicle it lost, he said.
In the meantime, the charity would be better able to take advantage of the gift from Shortreed if it had more volunteer labour.
Because most of the thrift store’s current volunteers aren’t available on Fridays, Baran is worried that they won’t be able to use the truck that day at all.
He’s appealing to the community for volunteers who are available Mondays and Fridays and who are able to do some heavy lifting to move furniture.
In the meantime, the charity is also making progress on finding the roughly 1,000 square feet of storage space it needs to store surplus donations, said Baran.
As of Wednesday morning, he had a couple of leads on possible space, but had yet to check them out and settle on a lease agreement.
The organization had only been using the warehouse space on Kingsmill for a few weeks when the fire broke out in the building.
The furniture that was being stored there would have gone to people in need who pay for the items with vouchers issued by the St. Vincent de Paul groups of the local churches.
Several organizations, including Family and Children’s Services, Michael House and Elizabeth House, have already contacted the thrift store to help clients set up their households, said board member Wendy Kratzer.
Organizations like to move people into their own home before Christmas, so the organization is expecting a high need for Dec. 1 move-ins, she said.
Because so much was lost in the fire, and because the need is expected to be high, the store will continue to take donations in spite of uncertain storage space, said Baran.
He was also hopeful they would have storage space soon.
“We could have storage space by next Monday,” he said.
Anyone available to volunteer or with donations of household furniture to offer is asked to contact the thrift store at 519-836-5829.