Dollars roll in to thrift shop and out to charity

It’s one of the biggest revenue-producing little thrift shops you’ll find anywhere.

And the health care system receives a huge boost from sales at the Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary’s Thrift Shop at the corner of Maple and Oak Streets in Chemainus.

Donations and customer patronage generate some $150,000 annually in health care comfort and support to residents of Chemainus-Crofton, surrounding areas in the valley and beyond.

The scope of the auxiliary’s efforts is astounding when you consider a donation of $75,000 was made to B.C. Children’s Hospital in late November.

Combined with other recent donations tallying $200,000, that brought the total for that facility alone to $275,000 in recent years.

Many donations have been made by the auxiliary from the thrift store to benefit the Chemainus Health Care Centre with much-needed equipment and program support. Proceeds have fed an abundance of other contributions to the Cowichan District Hospital, Victoria hospitals, Janeece Place in Victoria, the Cops For Cancer campaign, bursaries for Chemainus students, Providence Farm, Variety Club, Steeples assisted living — the list goes on.

Remarkably, the flourishing finances are realized mainly by selling an enormous number of items such as clothing that only cost a dollar or two each.

“We spread out as much as we can,’’ said current manager June Romero-Cabrera of how the proceeds are disbursed.

The store hit a monthly record in November with $40,000 in sales.

The value of products sold keeps climbing and the response from customers keeps the volunteers at the store hopping all the time. It’s particularly noticeable after the store’s been closed for a couple of days.

“It’s just unbelievable, Tuesday mornings,’’ said Romero-Cabrera.

“(Jan. 21) we probably had a 55-person lineup outside. That’s almost normal for a Tuesday.’’

The public obviously deserves a great deal of credit for keeping the donations coming in droves. Space adjacent to the retail store and upstairs is always jammed with items.

“The donations we’re having a hard time keeping up with,’’ said Romero-Cabrera. “But that’s not a complaint.’’

The volunteers, many of them widows, work hard behind the scenes to keep the stock moving. Their average age is 75, with two ladies — Edna Brown and Grace Rae — topping the charts at 90 years old and Romero-Cabrera among the youngest at 61.

“The hours these volunteers put in is amazing,’’ said Romero-Cabrera. “Some of them are here every day and they want to be here every day.’’

It’s hard, satisfying work but also a great social outlet for many of the ladies and a few men who volunteer as well.

“Actually we come here for the fun,’’ said Yvette Blanchard.

“The fellowship is what we need,’’ said Marjorie Coakwell. “Also, we’re helping the community.’’

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