Some of the members of the Ashcroft and District Health Care Auxiliary. (from l) Ruth Kachur; Sibylle Trimble; Bernice Maldidier; Nick Lebedoff; Donna Middleton; Sheila Churton; Janet Quesnel; Hiroko Kanamaru; Adele Moleski; Kitty Murray; Shirley Holowchuk. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Some of the members of the Ashcroft and District Health Care Auxiliary. (from l) Ruth Kachur; Sibylle Trimble; Bernice Maldidier; Nick Lebedoff; Donna Middleton; Sheila Churton; Janet Quesnel; Hiroko Kanamaru; Adele Moleski; Kitty Murray; Shirley Holowchuk. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Health care auxiliary continues long tradition of support

Thanks to their thrift store, group is providing grants totalling $60,000 this year

The Ashcroft and District Health Care Auxiliary’s thrift store continues to do a roaring business, and this year the organization is set to disburse some $60,000 to local organizations (and some that are a bit further afield, but are used by area residents), all in the name of health.

Secretary Donna Middleton says that there has recently been a change in the executive, with longtime volunteer Nick Lebedoff taking over as president from Kitty Murray, who has had that role for several years. Janet Quesnel is the new vice-president, and Adele Moleski has taken over as the organization’s treasurer.

The store had to close for several months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but reopened at the end of summer 2020 with a new addition: a Seacan, where donations could be stored while they waited to be moved into the store.

“That was the greatest thing ever, and it’s worked out well,” says Middleton, who notes that they got a big influx of donations when the store reopened. “We use it for when people drop off their stuff. Someone checks the donation bin every day, and things can be moved to the Seacan, where they can be sorted. It’s been great for space saving.”

The donations have continued over the past year, and Middleton says they can see some trends based on what people drop off. “Everyone is getting rid of their books, and no one is curling their hair anymore. We’re getting lots of curling irons.”

She notes that anything electrical gets plugged in to make sure it works. “If they work how they’re supposed to we can sell them. If we think something can be repaired because it’s just a little thing, we’ll try to fix it. We don’t like to throw out donations.”

They cannot sell any kind of children’s toys, and Middleton says they struggle with children’s clothes because of rules around various things like fabric and hoods. They also cannot sell things like cribs, car seats, or helmets because of insurance prohibitions.

At least once a week they get items dropped off that make the volunteers shake their heads.

“We don’t take TVs, and we don’t have room for any furniture. We have a problem with people dropping off furniture: we think people clean things out and don’t know what to do with them, so they bring them to us. We can’t use it, so volunteers then have to take it to the transfer station.”

In the past, to add insult to injury, the organization then had to pay to get rid of the items. Middleton notes that they have not had to pay tipping fees for a while, since the Thompson-Nicola Regional District — which operates the transfer station in Cache Creek — has given them a credit on their account. “It works well. Having to pay at the transfer station takes money away from the community, which is who we work to make money for.”

The money that is raised is for the health and wellness of community members, says Middleton. “It’s for services we feel community members use: Better at Home, Soup’s On, the Ashcroft Hospital and Health Site, the Healthcare and Wellness Coalition, The Equality Project, the Ashcroft and District Hospice Society, Thompson View Lodge, bursaries for Desert Sands Community School students. We’ve given funds to the Sage Sound Singers, because that benefits mental wellness, and we donate to places like the RIH Foundation and BC Children’s Hospital, because so many people from here use them.”

The organization has both regular members and honorary members, and Middleton notes that they have quite a few men now, which helps in some areas, such as moving heavy items. Volunteer Jim Mertel looks after the showcase inside the store, where collectable and higher-end items are displayed.

“The showcase is Jim’s baby,” says Middleton. “He has an eye and a flair for it. Finding items for the showcase is a group effort, but Jim makes it look pretty. He’s figured out how to take pictures that make it look good, and it stands out more now.”

The store has bag sales at the change of each season, or when they have a lot of items. “We’ll put things on sale when we have too much.”

Middleton says that they are always looking for volunteers.

“We need six people in order to run the store comfortably. We have 23 members right now but it varies. People are busy or can’t come in, and some don’t feel comfortable coming out because of COVID.” She adds that people don’t have to work in the store: “We need people to help with measuring and folding linens that are donated, and that can be done at home.

“We have a bursary committee, and need someone to look after our history book, by cutting things out of the paper and putting them in a scrapbook. You don’t have to be in store for that. And we do patient care to make things better for the people at Jackson House, so people do things like play Bingo with the residents.”

The store — located under the Ashcroft village office at 601 Bancroft Street — is open every Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. Second Time Around, on Railway Avenue, is open on Fridays, and Middleton says they didn’t want the two stores competing: “We thought it was better for the community if we were open on different days.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer, or learn more, can email or visit the Ashcroft & District Health Care Auxiliary Facebook page.

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