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Opening Doors for Children & Families

The Thrift Shoppe Fire

This week, a fellow non-profit agency experienced a great deal of hardship when fire destroyed one of their service centers. On Monday, a fire broke out at the Bissell Centre's sorting area of the Thrift Shoppe. The Thrift Shoppe is a social enterprise of Bissell Centre providing low income families and individuals a venue for purchasing high-quality products at very affordable prices. It is a critical service in our city.

In July, I decided to do something I had never done before...have a garage sale. This was no small feat as my basement was full of boxes from my recent move. My mother even drove 8 hours to assist me as she knew better than I did just what I was getting myself into. I HAD SO. MUCH. STUFF. It was really insane how such a little person could have SO MUCH STUFF!! And to be honest it was, shamefully, stuff I didn't need. For goodness sake I had THREE SETS OF DISHES!

Over the next few days we jam packed my garage with items. In true Alberta style we had scorching hot weather and sunburns the first day, and cold, rainy, wrap-yourself-in-a-blanket the very next day. I did well. I sold around $1500 worth of stuff...but remember when I told you I had a lot of stuff?? Yeah there was a lot left over. We debated over what to do with the remaining items and after much debate I knew I just wanted to make sure my stuff went to people who really needed it.

That week I happened to see some friends, one of whom works at an Edmonton women's shelter. I asked her if they accepted gently used household items. As with most service agencies, including ABC Head Start, she said they just did not have the space to accommodate storing the goods for the families. She then told me that their families are given coupons to shop at the Bissell Centre's Thrift Shoppe. As I listened to this friend talk about the impact the Thrift Shoppe has for their families I remembered the stories I had heard from our very own ABC Head Start families about their trips to the Thrift Shoppe. The Thrift Shoppe really was an anchor of 118 Avenue and in the lives of families going through some tough times.

The next day, my trusty sidekick (my mom) and I loaded up the truck and took the remainder of the items to the Bissell Centre's Thrift Shoppe. We were greeted by a cheerful young man who helped us unload the truck and thanked us endlessly for our donation. I drove away feeling that so many of the items which I had grown a sentimental attachment to were going to a "good home." A home where someone would value, treasure and feel grateful to have such items. I drove away with a different feeling than watching my items walking away with garage sale hunters. As Oscar Wilde said "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." As we fill our lives with material possessions we tend to forget how lucky we are to have these things. And it is the people who access places like the Bissell Centre's Thrift Shoppe that truly know the value.

Let's all band together to help the Bissell Centre get this program running once again. Please click here to visit their website and find out how you can help. For those who wish to donate clothing, you can still do so at the Southside Donations Centre at 5120 122 Street from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Saturday.

With the support of volunteers, ABC Head Start Society is able to support vulnerable children and families throughout the year. Volunteers contribute by sharing their ideas, talents and energy to events, on our Board of Directors and fundraisers, and in providing direct support to children, parents/caregivers and families.