We want you – our donors and shoppers – to know how your support for us helps the community, so here is our section of the St. Aidan’s 2015 Annual Report. Our heartfelt thanks!
The Friendly Octopus Thrift Shop
Our thrift shop opened in 1997 and was quite small compared to now. We expanded into the space where the housewares department is presently located in 2001, when the daycare closed due to a decline in their enrollment. When we first started up we had about 90 customers each time and now can expect about 300 during the four-hour period we are open.
We are open to the public every Wednesday – September through June – and the last Saturday of those months. We appreciate your thoughtfulness during the times we are closed for holidays and when we ask you NOT to send donations to us. This stoppage helps immensely.
When we began in 1997, it was the fall, so we only deposited for about six or seven weeks and our total was $1504 that first year. We are now in our 20th year, and in the past 19 years we have deposited $688,823. We give a percentage of our revenue each year to a registered charity in Victoria. This year the percentage went up to 14% and we gave $6,900 to the Victoria Threshold Society. This society exists to serve youth from across Vancouver Island through supported independent living.
When we opened in 1997, we had 16 volunteers and now we have expanded to over 40. Most of our volunteers are members of St. Aidan’s, but we appreciate those from our community who give so willingly of their time. Volunteers work in various amounts of time. We sort on Monday afternoons from 1-3 p.m. and we work on Wednesdays from a starting point of 8 am – 2:30 pm. Volunteers do a complete shift or some do only mornings and others, the afternoon. Some only come on Saturdays when we open at 9: 30 am and close at 1 pm. Whatever time volunteers are able to give us is very much appreciated. We always need new blood and we welcome newcomers. We have had three new people start this year. This is needed because we also have a group who are getting up there in years and we often need physical strength simply to move items from cars and trucks to our sorting area.
I should mention that in the area where we sell DVD players and small appliances, we have an expert who checks out electronics, a telephone expert, a top notch carpenter, a few Mr. Fix-its and so on. Whenever a new person spends a day there, they remark that they did not know so much went on!
We started having greeters this year and Sarah Smith has been the person who welcomes customers in the morning. Then we were asked if we could use someone in the afternoons and a very nice young man, called Lorenzo, now comes every afternoon with his worker.
For two years we have had the same girl come from S.I.D.E.S. (South Island Distance Education School). She is accompanied by her worker and they now help on Mondays also.
How We Help – Donating
We give a percentage of our revenue each year to a registered charity in Victoria. This year the percentage went up to 14% and we gave $6,900 to the Victoria Threshold Society.
On February 14, 2015, we held also a fashion show and tea for 130 people in the lower church hall. Through ticket sales to this event, we were able to present a cheque for $2000 to the Cool Aid Society.
How We Help – Recycling
We are very proud of our recycling efforts as very little goes to waste. All the metal is taken away each week, usually by Gord Harris. He now takes it to Bill Nicolson, who waits until he has a sizable amount, then sells it and donates the funds to Camp Pringle. Our electronics and styrofoam are taken to the Glanford Recycling Depot by Jim Upright. Plastics that do not go in the recycle bins at the church, such as plastic bags, are taken away by Ray Evans. Special metals, such as brass, silver or copper, that either do not sell or are dented or broken, are taken by Chris Osselton and sold by weight.
How We Help – Redirecting
As you know, the Thrift Shop runs on goods donated by the community, but you may not know that, in turn, we redirect those goods so they get the best use possible. For example:
• Doreen Bell takes the linens that are not suitable for sale to the SPCA.
• We recently started saving eye glasses for Our Place as they have a new initiative to provide much-needed eyewear to those who cannot afford glasses.
• Gail Murdock takes children’s clothing to the Compassionate Warehouse.
• We gather up all unopened toiletries for Transition House.
• Items that have been in the store for an extended period are sent off to either Big Brothers and Big Sisters or the Canadian Diabetic Association. Susan Kurushima takes, on average, four large bags of clothing to Our Place every Wednesday.
• Children’s books are still being collected for the 1000 X 5 Book Recycling Project, and they are taken there by Susan Kurushima.
• Valerie Barman and Ann Harris have been taking children’s clothing and equipment, such as strollers, to the Single Parent Resource Centre and to Artemis Place, an independent secondary school for teenage girls who need an alternative to traditional schools.
• Items such as metal crutches, shower benches, are taken to the Red Cross by Tony Embleton.
There are a few things we do not accept, such as encyclopedias, computers, furniture and mattresses. Our sorters are the ones who choose what goes to our thrift shop, St. Aidan’s annual bazaar or the groups named above. For example, donations of cotton fabric are passed on to the bazaar’s sewing group to turn into items for the bazaar’s sewing stall, and yarn is saved for the bazaar knitters to turn into knitted goods that will sell at the bazaar.
Our Thrift Shop Community
Our team is one of caring and friendship and we begin every Wednesday with an agenda that includes what is on sale, what is happening in the church, our aims for the day, and our prayer concerns. It is not all about work in a volunteer’s day; there is a lot of laughter happening as they sort, mend, fix and price things. Also, there is a camaraderie formed over the coffee breaks and lunches.
At the end of each year, after we close, we usually go to a restaurant for lunch and then back to my home for a dessert party and games of bocce ball and croquet. The cost of the restaurant comes out of a fund started by Margery Sheldrake, who, when she passed away, put the thrift shop in her will. After that, more money was donated by Jack Bennett (Mavis Wilson’s brother) and last year, by Mavis Wilson herself before she passed away. That reserve fund is referred to by us as the Sheldrake Bennett Wilson Fund.