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New West thrift store ready to reopen and help Royal Columbian Hospital

The Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary is getting back to work raising funds for much-needed equipment at the hospital.
Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary thrift store
Lindy Kirkwood, a volunteer at the New To You thrift store on East Columbia Street, serves a customer at the thrift store. The Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary raises funds for the hospital through its thrift store, as well as the lottery booth and gift shop at Royal Columbian Hospital.

The Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary is getting back to work raising funds for much-needed equipment at the hospital.

The auxiliary runs the New to You Thrift Shop in Sapperton, and the gift shop and lotto booth in the hospital lobby – all of which have been shuttered by COVID-19. New to You, located at 416 East Columbia St., is reopening on June 10.

“We will have to comply with all the regulations, the WCB regulations and things,” said Lindy Kirkwood, the auxiliary’s vice-president. “We were already kind of short on volunteers before this even started – it’s our ongoing thing – but not all of our volunteers are going to return right now. We do have quite a number of elderly volunteers. We have a few over 90, several in their 80s. We do have quite a number with compromised immune systems. They are just not prepared to come back yet.”

When the store reopens, there will be restrictions on the number of people allowed in the store at any one time and the change rooms will be closed.

“The idea is we are going to have someone near the door monitoring and watching how many people are coming in, and asking people to use the hand sanitizer and to follow the arrows on the floor,” Kirkwood said. “We did reconfigure the store so that it was going to be easier to navigate.”

Most of the volunteers will be working on the floor, rather than working in the back sorting donations, until some items start to sell.

“Our store is full. We can’t even put much more stuff out until we sell some things,” Kirkwood explained. “I know we are going to be bombarded with donations because you know everybody has been cleaning out these last few months.”

The Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary appreciates the support of community members who donate to the thrift store, but hopes they’ll “be gentle” and bring small batches of donations in for the time being.

“We do have amazing donors. We get some beautiful, wonderful donations,” Kirkwood said. “We absolutely would love them to bring them in smaller amounts. That would be wonderful.”

The doors to the New to You Thrift Store have been closed since March, but the charity has still had to pay rent. Using money from its general funds to pay rent will impact the amount of money it’s able to donate to Royal Columbian Hospital this year.

“We have not actually decided on a financial commitment to the hospital. We are kind of hovering around $150,000,” Kirkwood said. “In fact, it should have been better than last year, which was $175,000, because our thrift store did amazing in the last year, better than ever.”

Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary thrift store Cap's
Gordon Hobbis of Cap’s Bicycle Shop, right, recently presented Susan Pearson, one of the managers of the New to You Thrift store, with a $1,000 donation for the Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary. The donation will help the auxiliary with rent payments for the New to You Thrift Store, which has been closed because of COVID-19 and is opening this week. - Contributed

Gordon Hobbis, owner of Cap’s Bicycle Shop in Sapperton, heard about the charity’s plight and recently presented the Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary with a $1,000 donation to be put towards the thrift store’s rent.

Along with working on the reopening of the New to You thrift store, the auxiliary is also working on plans to reopen the gift shop so Royal Columbian Hospital staff have a place to buy snacks. It may take awhile longer, however, before the lotto booth gets up and running.

“The lottery booth, we can’t see a time yet where that would happen. It’s all cash. And the hospital is not open to the general public, so it doesn’t seem viable to open the lottery booth when there are not enough people around to sell to. That’s going to have to wait until the hospital opens up more,” Kirkwood said. “We may open the gift shop in a limited capacity just to help the staff out a bit with getting a snack here and there.”

Meanwhile, the Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary is on the lookout for a volunteer who would be willing to come by the shop once a week to pick up its recycling and take it to the appropriate depots.

“It is electronic recycling – we get a lot of donations of electric things that don’t work. We have small metal recycling and cardboard. Those are our big three,” Kirkwood said. “If anybody would offer to do that, at least once a week would be wonderful.”



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