By Jessica Lovell
Five months of work went up in smoke over the weekend, and the local St. Vincent de Paul Society is now back on the hunt for a place to store charitable donations.
“We’ve lost about five truckloads of furniture . . . as well as our truck,” said Wendy Kratzer, a board member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
The donated furnishings, as well as about 12 new mattresses and box springs, and the truck the society uses for deliveries, were destroyed when the warehouse that the society was renting on Kingsmill Avenue went up in flames on Saturday night.
The charitable organization will be looking to replace the donations, but before it can do that it will need a warehouse, “so that as donations come in, I’ve got a place to put them,” The organization supplies furniture and household items to people leaving shelters and prisons, providing the items in exchange for vouchers at its thrift store on Elizabeth Street. It had only just begun renting the 20,000-sq.-ft. Kingsmill warehouse in an effort to hold onto donations until there was a demand.
“When donations come in isn’t necessarily the same season as when we have people in need,” explained Kratzer.
“It took us five months to find a place we could afford,” she said.
After finally finding a suitable warehouse, there were delays in getting into the space, she added. First they arrived to find all the windows smashed. When the windows were fixed, the skylights were smashed.
When the fire happened, the organization had only had use of the space for about two weeks, said Kratzer. Now, as December approaches, the charity is concerned with being able to store the donations it will need for the busy Christmas season.
“A lot of the shelters and the prisons try to get people out and into their own homes by Christmas,” Kratzer said.
The thrift store, which also sells used items to the general public to help cover its costs, has about a three-week supply of furniture for vouchers, she said.
The store, which is run through a partnership between the St. Vincent de Paul Societies of five local churches, doesn’t actually need as much storage space as was lost in the fire. About 1,000 square feet will do. But ideally, it would be “something close to the store with space for the truck that’s safe,” said Kratzer.
Currently, the organization is renting a truck to make its deliveries, until arrangements can be made to replace the truck that was destroyed, she said.
The organization does not have the funds to pay full market rent for warehouse space, but as a charity it can issue a tax receipt for the difference, she said.
Anyone with space to offer is encouraged to contact Kratzer or St. Vincent de Paul board vice-president Paul Tessaro at the store, 519-836-5829.
In the meantime, monetary donations to the society can be made through one of the following participating churches:
• Church of Our Lady
• Sacred Heart
• St. John
• St. Joseph in Guelph
• St. Joseph in Fergussaid Kratzer.