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St. George’s, in the Parish of Bathurst, has become something of a purveyor of used goods these days.

The basement of the church has many rooms once used for Sunday school. But now they are filled with donations — for their rummage sales, for their coming online auction and for St. George’s Bargain Basement Closet, a shop that gives out used clothing, used bedding and new toiletries.

“We started with one table two-and-a-half years ago,” said Cathy Gallagher, the main organizer of the closet. “We saw people coming in for our lunch in need of jackets and coats.”

Cathy was asked for a coat, but she didn’t have one to give. A few days later on a trip to Ontario, she found one at Value Village. While away, she also visited a church with a closet ministry, laundry and shower, so she was able to see how they operated their outreach.

When Cathy returned and told fellow parishioners of the need for clothing, “things started trickling in,” she said.

She began in a small room, which was quickly outgrown in five months. 

“So everything was moved into a bigger room,” she said.

Now the closet is open Mondays at noon, when the neighbouring community centre is also open for its clients. Shoppers can take up to five items for free. Donations are welcome, but that’s not the point.

They have a wide variety that includes men’s suits and women’s dresses, plus more everyday items. Winter jackets have been very popular this year.

Cathy recalls a woman who found two $20 bills in a sweater pocket.

“She wanted the sweater, but she said, ‘this [money] doesn’t belong to me,’” said Cathy. “That helped buy some needed items.”

THE NEED IS GREAT
The closet is clearly filling a need. She has seen, on more than one occasion, a person picking out their five items, going to the adjacent bathroom, putting on the new clothes and throwing their old ones in the trash.

Obviously many people are without laundry facilities,  said Cathy.

Myrna Good-Hollett is a warden and fellow parishioner who helps out at the closet. She has learned first-hand that the city of Bathurst has many citizens in need of their generosity.

“It didn’t really strike home for me until recently when I came in one Saturday morning,” she said.

A person in a big parka — she couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman — was waiting outside and asked if they were having a breakfast that day.

“I said, ‘not today’ and I saw the shoulders slump,” she said.

She instructed the person to wait. She knew there were some leftover sandwiches in the fridge. She gathered them, some juice boxes and potato chips.

‘You are so good. Everyone else has shunned me,’ said the person.

The parish offers a community breakfast once a month, by donation (or none), which is popular. Their local Atlantic Superstore has been generous with donations of food for this outreach.

The parish also offers a seasonal community lunch during each long weekend from May to October, so that anyone not able to go to a food bank when shops are closed can at least get a meal. This was the brainchild of former incumbent Canon Sandy MacPherson. During the pandemic, they opted for bag lunches, but are back to cooking these days. 

DONATIONS
One thing Bathurst has a lot of, unfortunately, is funerals. And sometimes the contents of homes are brought to St. George’s as donations. The clothing goes to the closet, and the rest is set aside. 

Volunteers sort the items, with the high end going to their first ever online auction, and the rest earmarked for their rummage sales. 

There is money in used goods. Last year, the parish raised about $13,000 through rummage sales and the closet donations, so it’s a worthwhile endeavour and one that keeps its doors open, not just as a place of worship, but as a place of outreach for a community in need. 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

1.   Myrna Good-Hollett and Cathy Gallagher at St. George's Bargain Basement Closet. There really are bargains to be had, as everything is free or by donation if you can.

2. Sign on the door of St. George’s Bargain Basement Closet.

McKnight photos

 

1 Comment


Shirley Smith 22 days ago

What you and that church is doing is Amazing! God nless you both and everyone there, people don’t realize how many people need help, Once again “Bless you Myrna And Cathy! And to everyone else who makes this happen!


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