After almost two years since taking over the former Driftwood office space, the Lady Minto Hospital Auxiliary Society (LMHAS) has completed renovations needed to expand both the Thrift Store’s retail space and its sorting and storage areas.
The shop reopened Jan. 10 after an extended Christmas break with more space to set out the goods for sale and for items to be accepted, sorted and stored.
Anyone who took donations to the shop in the past could see the cramped space the volunteers worked in as plastic bags filled with donations and discards were piled high around them. With a wall removed during renovations, that area now forms part of the more spacious retail store, including a larger section for books. There’s lots of room for shoppers between racks and shelving units, and many more goods and treasures for sale.
The expanded working areas mean islanders will see fewer “No Donations Today” signs when they bring their goods to the shop. Still, LMHAS president Judith Wardell suggests calling ahead at 250-537-0643 before coming in with donations to ensure they can be accepted at that time. If sorting volunteers are available, donations can be accepted during store hours of Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
While more space for storage and sorting had always been the main priority for LMHAS volunteers who run the thrift shop, explain Wardell and board member and publicist Ann Heeley-Ray, the original plan was to use some of the Driftwood space in a store expansion. However, after LMHAS took over the area in March of 2021, structural problems with the building forced a change of plans. Another more recent challenge arose from a flood caused by a leaking toilet.
But Wardell and Heeley-Ray said everyone was pleased about the new floor that resulted, with a Victoria-area contractor available to do the job quickly.
All proceeds from Thrift Shop sales benefit Gulf Islands public health facilities.
“The public knows us as the thrift store,” said Wardell. “But I think a lot of times they don’t understand that we buy things for Greenwoods and Braehaven and the hospital. [Those agencies] send us lists and say ‘We need this, this and this.’ And we pick out the things we feel they need the most.”
“That’s where we really need volunteers — in the hospital,” she added.
Auxiliary volunteers have traditionally provided afternoon tea to extended care unit residents, for example.
Heeley-Ray notes that the LMHAS also provides items for facilities on the other Gulf Islands and receives donations from those islands.
Visit lmhas.ca for more information about auxiliary activities, donations and how to help.